Cheerios’ 1999 holiday ad featuring an adorable hungry baby and a loving grandma celebrating their first Christmas together is one of the most memorable and well-loved spots of its era.
The ad was made by Saatchi & Saatchi and starred actress Peggy Miley—who has also appeared in Star Trek and more recently Stranger Things—as a grandma using Cheerios to show her granddaughter where her family live across the United States.
Each time she picks up a Cheerio, the cute baby opens her mouth expectantly, only for each cereal piece to pass her by.
Now the iconic spot is being updated for the 2020 holidays—featuring the woman who starred in the ad as a baby and is now a 21-year-old student studying media at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
The sequel shows 79-year-old Miley and the now grown-up baby—whose real name is Delfina Booth—dialing into a video call to wish each other a merry Christmas, albeit virtually this year thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the ad, the granddaughter finds a box of Cheerios on her front porch with a note to call her grandma.
The spot will run on TikTok and YouTube over the holidays.
How TikTok inspired the ad
Brand owner General Mills decided to remake the ad after spotting a viral TikTik, by user Cori Spruiell, urged the company to make a remake of the beloved ad.
The TikTik was posted on Wednesday, Nov. 11. By the next Monday, General Mills held an all-hands brainstorm with agency partners about how to make it happen. By the following Monday it had selected Minneapolis agency Martin Williams Advertising to make the ad and the team set about tracking down Miley and Booth.
I don’t think we could find a more relevant time to talk about families who are missing each other and want to be together over the holidays.
—Kathy Dixon, senior brand experience manager for Cheerios
Miley was easy to find, but Booth was a little trickier to track down because she is no longer an actress, Kathy Dixon, senior brand experience manager for Cheerios, told Adweek.
“[Finding Miley] became the first piece of the puzzle,” she said. “Then things started falling into place piece by piece—we secured the grandma, secured the baby and pulled it all together in a Covid-safe way.”
“I think [Booth] was so surprised and completely caught off guard—she was so excited. Her mum was with her on set and I’m sure she was very nervous but she was so gracious, so sweet, and she did a great, great job.”
The scenes with the grandma were shot at the director’s house in Los Angeles, while the scenes with Booth were shot in Atlanta each with only two or three people on set. The team also connected with Spruiell, and with the original General Mills team that worked on the 1999 ad, in an advisory capacity.
Dixon said she “actually shocked” by the extent to which people sill have an “emotional tie” to the ad but felt confident the ad would resonate with people who hadn’t seen the 1999 spot, too.
“I don’t think we could find a more relevant time to talk about families who are missing each other and want to be together over the holidays and simply can’t because it isn’t safe. It’s more relevant than ever,” she said.
“We tried to stick with the original construct as much as possible, and it’s very clear [in the ad] that this grandma and granddaughter have had a tradition of being together on the holidays and are doing their best to maintain that tradition in 2020.”