Kids love shitty sugary cereals with strange, deranged mascots. But why? Lucky Charms taste freeze-dried, for God's sake. Well, it turns out those brightly colored boxes are perfectly designed so terrifying cartoons can stare straight into children's eyes, mesmerizing them into demanding Count Chocula.
That's according to Businessweek, reporting on new findings out of Cornell. Picture the world from the eyes of bored little Jimmy, trailing behind his mom through the aisles of Kroger:
The researchers found that children's cereals are typically placed on the bottom two shelves and the mascots deploy "a downward gaze at an angle of 9.67 degrees." This creates an average gaze for the characters a little more than 20 inches above the ground, which is pretty handy for grabbing the attention of small kids in the grocery aisle.
Here's a video demonstration:
What's more, eye contact with a "spokescharacter" increased consumers' feelings of trust for a brand by 16 percent. That conclusion was reached via, uh, " a lab study of 63 university students who were more likely to pick Trix over Fruity Pebbles when the rabbit's eyes were digitally manipulated to look out at them." Why that increased everyone's warm fuzzy feelings instead of scaring them shitless is a mystery of human psychology.
Now, the researchers don't come right out and say this is deliberate manipulation on the part of cereal shillers. The report insists it does not "state or mean to infer that spokes-characters are deliberately designed to direct their gaze downward in order to make eye contact with children."
Nonetheless, this makes for a pretty good reminder that corporate America is terrifying and very much wants to feed your child crap.
Photo via AP Images.