C.J.: Cheech and Chong pitch a new brownie

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2011 - 8:22 PM

Betty Crocker's people are very high on their new partnership with Cheech and Chong -- and that's not just some magic brownies talking.

General Mills has hired cannabis-loving comedians Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong to promote its Fiber One Brownies in Web videos.

"It was part of a marketing brainstorm, and it kind of popped up as a joke. Then our digital agency brought it to life," Lisa Tomassen of the Fiber One Team told me Tuesday. "We've been having a lot of fun with it."

Adage.com wrote that "General Mills might have unlocked the secret for reaching Baby Boomers: pot brownies!" No, the food giant has too much moral fiber to make pot its magic ingredient.

Jim Wilson, marketing manager for Fiber One Bars business, said: "I am one of the people who was able to bring this to life. Was fun. Every year here at General Mills we are being encouraged to bigger and bolder marketing initiatives. We have a 'Bold Experiment' competition within the marketing community; ideas that we think are really good get funded.

"Our agency, Publicis Modem out in New York, [said] Hey, you are launching this new Fiber One 90 calorie brownie line. What if we positioned those as 'magic' brownies? What if we used Cheech and Chong in a digital viral video?

"We all laughed," said Wilson. "We thought it would resonate with boomers and anybody who knows Cheech and Chong. Through the course of time we've learned a lot of people know Cheech and Chong."

Even people like Wilson, who's never seen their movies, knew enough to know it was going to be funny. "For us, we loved it because it was a way to take the viewer on a journey where they are thinking this is a trailer for a new Cheech and Chong video and at the end surprise them. It's an ad for Fiber One; boomers are looking for more fiber in their diet. A fun way to put a twist on the magic ingredient."

Wilson was on the video locations in Southern California. How were Cheech and Chong, if you get my meaning?

"Everybody asks. You know, they were quite professional," said Wilson. "They were very gracious [to fans, fellow castmates and crew]. You know, they are getting up there in age."

But not so old as to be above pranks at the expense of the director and creative team. Overall, the comedians were "playfully mischievous," said Wilson. "Especially Cheech. Anytime he did a scene he thought was particularly funny he'd look up and say, If you don't like that, you don't like comedy."

So far the response to the video has been "really strong. Over 100,000 views." View it at www.startribune.com/a700.

60-year employee feted

CBS has reportedly expressed interest in covering Monday's celebration of Delta Air Lines flight attendant Bob Reardon's 60th year in aviation.

The blowout for the 87-year-old St. Paul resident, and anybody who's ever flown with him, will be at the Officers Club at Fort Snelling. But he shouldn't get his hopes up too high about being on the national news, because breaking news often scuttles feel-good features.

An open invitation

A few weeks ago someone offered to escort Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman to see the Lynx, the only winning pro franchise in this market at the moment.

"I can't go to all the games," he told me.

I was only asking him to go to one game, probably his first. I told him I'd drive and before the game, I'd buy us a couple of Murray's Silver Butter Knife Steaks.

"I can't go to all the games," he said flatly as I dogged his boys, the Twins and Vikings.

Now that the Lynx are in the WNBA finals, I'd like to renew my invitation.

Whaddaya say, Sid?

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on Fox 9 Thursday mornings.

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