Ad Age reports that John Cena is set to replace Fred Flintstone on specially-marked boxes of Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles. It will cover four million boxes so Fred will be on some covers, even as Post is planning to change its packaging strategy for the brand, which will feature several Flintstones characters including Fred, Barney, Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino.
Sharon Pupel, marketing director for Post, said: "We've just been talking with kids. They wanted more variety. Fred isn't necessarily the … coolest or [most] relevant guy for kids who we are going after."
WWE and Post first made a deal when The Rock made fun of John Cena's ring gear, saying he looked like a "big, fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles." They say it wasn't an attempt to get a new sponsor, but they reached out anyway after fans began chanting "Fruity Pebbles" at John Cena at WWE events.
Cena was featured last year on three million boxes but was at the top of the box while Fred was still the main focus. Other promotions are being planned, including a sweepstakes and a return for Cena during the back-to-school period.
This is the WWE's biggest deal with a family brand since toning things down in 2008 to get a PG rating. Andrew Judelson, Executive VP of sales and sponsorship, said: "It doesn't happen overnight. Just because we say we've moved to PG doesn't mean corporate America immediately is going to respond. It takes consistency, it takes time and I think what's happening now ... is there is a tipping point."
Other recent deals include a promotion with Irish Spring soap. Judelson said that other deals are in the works.
The show has had several problems trying to get to a family friendly program. In 2011, gay advocacy groups were outraged when Cena used gay slurs against The Rock, including a reference to Brokeback Mountain. WWE apologized and began a partnership with GLAAD that included sensitivity training. A spokeswoman said: "We know that we have a gay fan-base, [so] we welcomed that opportunity."