We've all heard well known music used in commercials. But the cereal people in Battle Creek may have been the first to turn that concept around and to create an original pop song to not only promote their products, but in one instance, scoring a hit song.
The folks at Kellogg's were first with "Doin' the Flake", a promotional release from Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Lewis is the son of comedy legend Jerry Lewis, and he and the Playboys were riding the wave of debuting out of the box in 1965 with a number one song, "This Diamond Ring", and the follow-up, "Count Me In", which peaked at #2.
(Gary Lewis -Topic via YouTube)
While the Playboys had a pretty basic straight ahead sound, Doin' the Flake sounds like an attempt at surfing msuic and sounding like the Beach Boys.
This marketing continued through the end of the decade, with cereals like Post's Honeycomb tied to prefab groups groups like The Archies, and real artists like actor/singer/teen idol Bobby Sherman.
But in the early 1970's, the marketing folks at Post came up with an even better idea. Post, of course, is the maker of Sugar Crisp (now sold as Golden Crisp). Like many products aimed at younger consumers, Sugar Crisp had a mascot, Sugar Bear. And here's where Post took this type of marketing to the next level.
They created a band, the Sugar Bears. basically studio musicians. Studio bands have been around since the 60's. The Archies, 1910 Fruit Gum Company, the Cuff Links, Steam, several others were all studio creations of record companies. Some very talented people were involved. Most, if not all, produced what was labeled as "bubble gum", as a lot of it was aimed at teens and pre-teens.
So here come The Sugar Bears.
(Eye of the Lioness via YouTube)
So Post hired a producer along with singers Mike Settle and Kim Carnes (yes, that Kim Carnes..."Bette Davis Eyes", and created a bubblegum band, the Sugar Bears. Some might even remember '45's being printed on vinyl pressed onto the cardboard of the cereal box and then played on a record player. Looking back at it, it's as primitive as something out of the stone age and the Flintstones. Still, "You Are The One" sold enough copies to reach #51 on the charts.
But it's a reminder there's nothing new under the sun, whether it's using cereal or American Idol, or even a TV series like the Monkees or The Partridge Family. It's about "moving the merch".