Guilt stars in latest General Mills ad

General Mills really brings the parental guilt with a release today of a video under the auspices of the Canada unit of its Nature Valley Granola brand that compares the memories of today’s oldsters with the ones of young people.

The video insists our relationship with nature (get it?) is disappearing.

The General Mills blog says the company wanted to take a year-long nature campaign “to the next level.”

“We thought their childhood memories would be very much about technology. So we said you know what, we’re going to try a social experiment. We’re going to go out there and talk to real families – three generations,” says Desiree Brassard, brand strategy and activation manager on snacks, General Mills Canada. “It happened as we expected. We got some very rich memories from parents and grandparents, and then we asked kids … they love technology.”

While the response from the children perhaps was predictable, Desiree says it was still eye-opening for her.

“In the beginning, I felt some nostalgia from the parents. I heard their nature memories and it made me want to get out there and be able to be a part of it. For the second part, not having kids myself, when I heard them just come right out and talk about technology so much I was shocked. I didn’t realize just how much it had taken over childhood. And lastly, I felt empathy when the parents did see it. Even though they have an idea that this is going on, it really sinks in and they reflect. You empathize and you want to make the change for yourself and all the people in your life,” she says.

I have great memories of the outdoors, too, but had you asked me a question at a young age, I’d probably tell you about the cool robot I made with an erector set. But if you asked me now, I’d talk about playing baseball in the park behind our house, or spending the day exploring the seashore. Age enhances memory and time provides context. That is to say: We change our answers, but our lives are very much similar.

“I think you see your children using technology and at first you’re sort of proud, thinking ‘Wow my child can maneuver an iPad, they’re learning, they’re so smart,’” Emma Eriksson, marketing director of snacks for General Mills Canada, said. “And it sort of happens gradually without you realizing that instead of having amazing moments and that sense of joy and freedom from being out in nature, a lot of children’s time has been replaced sitting in front of an iPad, phone or video game console.”

Give ’em a nature screen saver and a granola bar. They’ll be OK.