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Où est Buzz? General Mills Canada highlights plight of the honey bee

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General Mills' Canadian wing hopes its new marketing gamble will take flight.

The company that makes Honey Nut Cheerios has a mascot who is missing in action from cereal boxes sold north of the border.

With the population of honey bees plummeting, General Mills Canada opted to dramatize the situation by taking Buzz the cartoon bee off the box cover. Instead of Buzz's animated grin, there's only the white outline of the figure along with a promotion of the website

Twin Cities-based General Mills wrote on its blog Tuesday about the marketing move of its Canadian subsidiary.

The marketing director of General Mills Canada, Emma Erickson, says: "As a marketer, when you look at what’s really driving liking to the brand, Buzz is right up there with the product and the honey. So, to take Buzz off the box was a bold–and a little bit scary–move."

The attention paid to the change is already considerable, though. AdWeek, Time, and Popular Science are among the national magazines that put stories about it on their websites Tuesday.

As part of its campaign – coordinated with public relations firm Cossette, AdWeek says – General Mills Canada is giving away seeds to anyone interested in planting wildflowers that can help honeybees reproduce.

University of Minnesota entomologist Marla Spivak tells the blog A Taste of General Mills there are several threats to the bee population in Canada, but one of the biggies is the elimination of flowering plants and ground cover.

“The goal of planting 35 million wildflowers will go a long way toward helping provide the natural habitat and food supply that is essential for healthy, sustainable bee colonies,” Spivak says.

A video released by General Mills Canada as part of the BringBackTheBees campaign opens with scenes of humans saving various animals before segueing to bees and encouraging viewers to help them by planting wildflowers.

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