Surreal Cereal’s brilliant ‘celebrity’ ads blew away Kellogg’s. Then the lawyers came.


In addition to housing, banking, fintech, The Basis Point also keeps a close eye on marketing trends, and we love highlighting killer campaigns, or serial advertisements as a formal Brit might say. And our cereal killer campaign award definitely goes to to the UK-based Surreal creative team. Here’s the back story, including how lawyers almost ruined it.

This Surreal cereal creative team first caught my eye this year with their comically uncomfortable ‘Awkward Family Photos.’ Here’s a sneak peek but for full (cringey) experience we’ve provided the photoshoot link below.

Surreal Cereal Company Hack - Awkward Family Photos

That was definitely enough to follow them, and here’s what they did next.

They got ‘official’ product endorsements, from 4 BIG NAMES.

– Serena Williams
– Michael Jordan
– Dwayne Johnson
– Ronaldo

The hook: it’s just people with the same names as those global celebrities.

Brilliant for both buzz and budget control.

Mic drop on using big names without big budgets. Cue the chatter.

The brilliant bit is that — impressed or critical — everyone has an opinion on this.

Whether you’re aligned with The Lawyers or a new Surreal cereal Superfan like me (aka marketer who wishes she came up with it first), the numbers speak for themselves in this super serious cereal controversy.

In just 4 days, Surreal’s ‘celebs’ video commercial had 4,130 reactions, including 331 comments and 546 reposts from their 31,029 followers at the time (that’s over 13%!).

See snapshot from 3/10 here — it surely would’ve gone way higher, but it’s gone now (more on this below).

Even with Surreal’s ad being pulled, their guerrilla tactic blew away the iconic and huge-budget Kellogg’s cereal brand.

Below is a screenshot from a recent Kellogg’s celebrity endorsement, with the real Lizzo using Special K in her latest music video ‘Special.’

In about a month, Kellogg’s has only garnered 309 reactions, 2 comments and 11 reposts from over 1 million followers.

So to recap: If Surreal garnered reactions from 13.3% of 31k followers using fake celebs, and Kellogg is only getting 0.02% engagement from 1m followers using actual Lizzo, then maybe Surreal is onto something.

I think it’s bloody brilliant. And they added almost 7,000 followers since then.

But The Lawyers must’ve disagreed because the ad shown above is gone. And the campaign has been revised with asterisks by the celebrity names.

Here’s how the Serena Williams ad looks now.

Surreal Cereal Serena Williams billboard - post-controversy version - The Basis Point

And here’s how the Dwayne Johnson and Ronaldo ads look now.

Surreal Cereal Dwayne Johnson billboard - post-controversy version - The Basis Point

Surreal Cereal Ronaldo billboard - post-controversy version - The Basis Point

Wait. Those might be gone too. It looks like this might be their new marketing campaign (courtesy of legal).

Surreal cereal celebrity commercial controversy ad response lawyer version - The Basis Point

Cheerio to my chaps at Surreal for their marketing tactics.


Surreal LinkedIn page

Kellogg’s Lizzo music video Special K cameo

Surreal Cringey Awkward Family Photos




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