It seems that everyone is talking about football player Ray Rice’s scandal after video footage of the NFL football star knocking out his then fiancée was released to the public last week. Today the Kellogg’s brand, who makes the cereal Rice Krispies (the iconic cereal released in 1928) and Rice Krispies Treats (released in 1995) announced that the topic has become so talked about in the media, that it has affected the sales of the cereal. The company has ultimately decided that drop the word “Rice” from their name.
Kellogg’s spokesperson Lesley Davidson told the Associated Press this morning that due to the drastic decline in sales they will be changing the name of the cereal to Kracklin’ Krispies, the treats will be named Kracklin’ Krispies Treats.
“Marketing is a funny thing. We know that it seems a bit ridiculous that the Ray Rice story would affect a brand of cereal, but it has. People relate words to either negative or positive images in the back of their subconscious minds,” said Davidson. “Think of how Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC when the word “fried” starting having all sorts of negative connotations in a health-concious market. This is very similar. Sales in the past week have shown a dramatic drop-off in purchases of Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats because of the Ray Rice Scandal. Marketing experts have it down to a science and it has been proven that certain words and names of products will trigger an impulse to buy or not to buy a product. An immediate change was deemed necessary, so our board of trustees voted on a name change.”
While serving what was a two-game suspension handed down by National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens on September 8, 2014 after the public release of video of the brutal assault on his then-fiancée, who is now his wife. The surveillance video from the elevator they were in shows Rice punching and knocking her out, then dragging her limp body out of the elevator. After the video was released, the NFL announced that Rice would suspended indefinitely. The Ravens then pulled all merchandise bearing his name off shelves, and his former high school, Rochelle High School in New York removed his jersey and pictures from various display cases throughout the school. Rutgers University, where he played college football, has since done the same.
When asked if the name change of the cereal was permanent, Davidson stated that it would remain effective for the foreseeable future. “We will cross that bridge when we get to it. If at some point the American public stops thinking of the word rice in a negative way, we may consider it, but for now a new marketing campaign for Kracklin‘ Krispies is being launched at full force,” he responded.
Ray Rice has been losing endorsement deals since the scandal hit. He was previously endorsed by the Otis elevator company, for whom he had appeared in live in person via presentation to large, and up and coming corporations and companies. Earlier this week he was dropped as their spokesperson. It has also been stated that legendary NFL and former San Francisco Forty-Niners great Jerry Rice is considering legally changing his name to just “Jerry.”
Other companies and products, including Uncle Ben’s White Rice and Rice-a-Roni, are also considering name changes to distance themselves from any controversy.