Gracie and her white mom and black dad are back for another Cheerios commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

This ad is a beauty. But it’s but not as funny as last spring’s spot that had Gracie pouring Cheerios on her dad’s chest while he was napping because they are “heart healthy.”

That spot also made news when General Mills shut down the comments ­section on the YouTube version because of racist vitriol by a small minority of the 5 million viewers. The ad, however, turned out to be a major win for Cheerios, and the public resoundingly approved. This year’s spot runs 30 seconds and is at

In the ad, Dad and Gracie push three Cheerios together on the breakfast table to represent the family. Dad adds a fourth. Gracie is going to have a baby sibling.

Adweek calls it “pure Cheerios — a quiet, simple, real moment, and one that ends nicely, too, with a priceless look on the mom’s face.”

Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Big G cereals, said on the company’s website: “Cheerios is about families and love and connections — and breakfast. Our new Cheerios ad celebrates one of those special moments with a family that America fell in love with.”

Kudos to General Mills for running this ad during the popular and expensive-buy Super Bowl. General Mills long has supported families of all colors and gender. The mostly positive response has been good for business and for us.

Great ads whether we love the NFL or not

The Super Bowl is the over-the-top finale for the National Football League, our version of gladiators with cheerleaders. The spectacle will be with us long as fans eat it up, advertisers get exposure and young guys who can make millions and gain (short-lived) celebrity are willing to take the risk. It is a huge advertising play. And one lucky nonprofit will get some Twin Cities exposure at very reduced rates during a premium slot.

Fox 9 TV management reached out to the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and plans to run its “Fit for All” ad created by Minneapolis agency Preston Kelly between the first and second quarters. The celebrated ad, which Fox determined to be of Super Bowl quality, will be the only local ad during the four-hour blitz of high-buck national ads. The local campaign was so successful for the local YMCAs last year that 30 Y’s across the country have signed up. The ad is at

Full disclosure: The YMCA, more than a health club with scholarships for low-cost fitness, family and youth-development programs, is also the only club around that would admit me as a member.

From South Dakota to the Super Bowl

Daktronics of Brookings, S.D., which also manufactures at its Minnesota plant in Redwood Falls, will be showcasing one of its huge video screens Sunday at the Super Bowl at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Al Kurtenbach, a professor of electrical engineering at South Dakota State University, co-founded Daktronics in his rented South Dakota garage in 1968. The first product that worked, following an unsuccessful foray into designing biomedical devices, was a small portable scoreboard for SDSU’s wrestling team.

“We were looking for a way to keep our graduates at home,” ­Kurtenbach, now 80 and still involved in the company, once told the Star Tribune.

Now Daktronics sells high-tech lighting systems and scoreboards for high school and college venues to huge arenas and football stadiums. The company, with a stock market value of about $625 million, employs 2,700 people at plants in South Dakota, Minnesota, New York and Shanghai.

We’ve got lots of other generous employers, President Obama!

President Obama recognized Twin Cities-based Punch Pizza during his State of the Union address for recently raising the minimum wage of its nonmanagement employees to $10 an hour. The long-lagging federal minimum wage is $7.25. Punch Pizza’s CEO and a kitchen worker, Nick Chute, attended Tuesday’s State of the Union address as guests of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Punch is only the latest local business to raise its minimum wage or which long has paid more for often-unskilled workers who show up at restaurant or shop or bakery. CEO Loren Schirber of Minneapolis-based Castle Building & Remodeling recently unilaterally raised its minimum wage to $12.50 an hour, plus benefits. Schirber pays most of the growing company’s employees more than that, but he said premium pay helps attract and retain good workers, including interns.

Peter Kelsey, founder of 300-employee New French ­Bakery, for years has paid beginning workers $10 to $11 in starting hourly wages, plus health, dental and disability insurance. The median wage was around $13.50 an hour at the two once-vacant Minneapolis buildings that his company converted into thriving baked-good factories years ago.

“Seems to me that there is a story in there about how Minneapolis and the business community have been ahead of the curve in discovering that good pay equals good ­profits through increased productivity and less turnover,” said Kelsey, who sold New French last year to a private equity investor after building it to $40 million in revenue over two decades.

Good for these progressive employers.


• Anser Innovation has closed a $1.5 million equity fund round as it prepares to launch its first product, PetChatz, a videophone that links pets and their owners. Anser is a Burnsville-based technology company developing Internet-based software and hardware to enhance remote communications. It secured backing from angel investors based in Minnesota as well as throughout the nation. The company raised $1 million from angel investors in the fall of 2012. The latest funding will support this spring’s launch of PetChatz, which lets owners use a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device to see and talk to their dogs and other pets.

CEO Lisa Lavin, with 20 years experience commercializing health care and animal care products, says Anser also is working on a remote medication-management system for seniors and other patient populations.