Combine a 1990s cartoon mascot, a rapper who peaked a decade ago, and a mediocre sugary cereal, and what do you get? “Must Be the Honey,” a social media brand reboot that was almost certainly not worth the consulting fees.

Yes, 34-year-old Honey Nut Cheerios has unveiled its ninth slogan, following the immortal “It's a honey of an O” (1979–1990), “It's Honey Nut Cheerios!” (1979–1992 and 2000–2004), “It's Irrezzzzistable!” (1992–1993), “Race for the taste!” (1993–1995), “Little O, big taste!” (1995–1999), “Nobody can say no to Honey Nut Cheerios” (1995–2004), “From the hive that's nuts about honey!” (2004–2008), and “Bee happy, bee healthy!” (2009 onward).

In fact, that last catchphrase is explicitly repudiated in a recent commercial spot by none other than the cereal’s new cospokesman, rapper Nelly of “Hot in Herre” and “Ride Wit Me,” a track whose parenthetical assumption, “Hey, must be the money,” is the basis of this punning, hip-hop-oriented, and Internet-friendly advertising push. Watch him give Buzz, the brand’s animated bee, some kind of urban hipster makeover, complete with AutoTune:

 

Naturally, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The General Mills cereal also has a Tumblr featuring plenty of GIFs, both from classic commercial spots and with Nelly and Buzz together, as well as a Twitter presence that is really strongly pushing the hashtag #MustBeTheHoney—for when “something sweet” happens to you.

Oh, and if you interact with Buzz by calling him a “homie,” he’ll correct you:

It's a shame because Cheerios is bouncing off a highly successful ad campaign featuring cute kids and a biracial family.

It’s hard to know which aspect of this campaign, from the stretch to exploit 20-somethings’ nostalgia to the poorly conceived Instagram account, is the funniest. Oh wait, I’ve got it: this photo of Nelly, in a Honey Nut Cheerios jacket(?!), imploring you to keep Honey Nut Cheerios a secret. Just between you and him, OK?


 

Don’t know about you, but for once I’m really looking forward to breakfast.

Photo by laffy4k/Flickr