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Dipping into Nostalgia

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General Mills Banks on the Return of an Iconic ‘90s Snack

Kids of the ‘90s had cause to celebrate this week when General Mills announced they were bringing back Dunkaroos, the iconic grade-school snack that so many grew up with.  The beloved childhood lunchbox treats, which are various-flavored cookies packaged with a small cup of icing for dunking, hit grocery shelves in 1992 but was discontinued in the U.S. in 2012. Millennials have been calling for its return ever since.

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👀

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The reprise has been a long time coming, with grown-up kids being quite vocal about their craving for the sweet, portable, icing and dunking-cookie combo they once knew and loved. Even celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, now a mom several times over, launched a rallying cry for the snack’s return back in 2018 on Twitter.

For us, what’s worth noting from a branding perspective is that General Mills, and more specifically Betty Crocker, are doing the return right.  In this case, the company is keeping the original logo and the product’s mascot, Sydney the dunking kangaroo. And while the packaging has been updated to match contemporary styles, it reflects a genuine (and electric) ‘90s vibe.

Why is this a smart way to do it?

Because the goal in a nostalgia-driven campaign is to replicate the OG experience. And nothing brings back memories more vividly than the flavor of a treat that’s been missing as a taste-sensation since adulthood – when being seen dunking cookies into a well of frosting and rainbow sprinkles inexplicitly became uncool.  In the end, a brand wants that experience to be as close to the memory as possible, and General Mills seems to be ticking-off all those boxes.

 

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All the feels

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They’re also making an effort to communicate to their legion of former fans on the platforms they live on now. Rather than advertising on after-school cable television programming, Dunkaroos is generating buzz with flashy Twitter and Instagram accounts and positive editorial coverage on influential sites like BuzzFeed which recently featured an enthusiastic post created by their own self-proclaimed Nostalgia Nerd, Brian Galindo.

General Mills has also played the “tease” factor perfectly. They’ve been hinting about the return of Dunakroos for years now. Today, even after officially announcing a renewed production run, they’re still making their fans wait, with anticipation, until summer 2020 for supermarket availability. That’s plenty of time to build upon fan fanaticism and milk the reminiscence for all its worth.

 

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Anyone have a time machine to the future?

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How will adult millennials feel about reawakening their dunking memory muscle, and guiltily dipping a sugary cookie into an even more sugary spread?  And will their own kids embrace the product as enthusiastically as they once did? It remains yet to be seen.  Until then, let’s continue to monitor how General Mills leverages the power of nostalgia to rev up enthusiasm for its returning icon, and the lessons we can all learn from watching how that’s done.