It must be the future because your cereal box is also an augmented-reality drum machine or synth. We talked to the creative team about the project, plus the full-featured “pro” models.

Creative agency Anomaly designed this music-making campaign for General Mills’ Reese’s Puffs cereal. (Yeah, that’s a thing.)

For consumers, there are boxes. A limited run of Reese’s Puffs cereal boxes will transform into one of three instruments when you point your phone camera at it, through the magic of augmented reality:

  • Creamy Lead Synth
  • Chocolatey Bass Synth
  • Crunchy Drum Machine

All the details there are at the puffsFX site – you can also use a desktop browser by giving it camera access:

The one creation here that really caught my eye is an exclusive physical edition, dubbed the RP-PRO. It has a cereal box body, but you get physical pots, keys, and other details that look like the cereal puffs and candy. It actually tops some of the faked synth mock-ups we’ve been checking out lately.

Creative Director Brian Moore tells us more about the features of these, which will be sent out to artists, plus the rest of the project.

Ideal for when you get the munchies in the studio or the backstage is not well stocked? All photos courtesy Reese’s/Anomaly. And yeah, I wasn’t sure, but it seems you can make cereal come out of the PRO version, too.

CDM: Who worked on this project – both the augmented reality and physical-instrument projects?

The General Mills team together with Anomaly LA and DeepLocal out of Pittsburgh brought both the pro and the fx boxes to life. We also had the pleasure of working with Plan8 [music and sound branding and interaction agency] to create the sound synthesis themselves. A truly great experience getting to work with such a fantastic team.

What about those Pro editions; what capabilities will they include?

The RP-PRO is very exciting. They’re full-fledged all-in-one grooveboxes worthy of a place in any studio. It’s got Reese’s Puffs molded keys, a 6 piece drum pad, up to 64 step sequencer, and all the fx knobs are modeled after Reese’s Peanut butter cups themselves. Oh, and a domed screen to bring the music to life visually.

So you’ll actually be able to make music with these? What sort of features are we talking here – both for the AR and the Pro versions?

There are three FX boxes on shelves, The Crunchy drum machine, the Chocolatey lead synth, and the Creamy bass synth. You can use one or can combine all three in the puffsFX app to create a full track.Each one has five different sound packs as well ranging from the Boom-Bap 90s style, to synth wave, to deep house, to 8-bit, to even sounds based on things around the breakfast table. They grid is a 16 step sequencer, familiar to anyone who’s been around music but also easy to pick up for anyone who hasn’t. All you need is your phone, the box, and a few puffs to make music.

Then the pro takes all that to the nth degree. We really set out to create something you’d keep plugged into your studio setup. It’s got the same sound packs but amped up a notch. It’s got the step sequencer, the puffs keyboard, the drum pads, a built-in Mic sampler, and all the fx that are standard on any piece of equipment out there, except ours are Reese’s cups. But what those things don’t have is the dome visualizer that brings all of the music synthesis to life visually. It’s a true synth.

RP-PRO, in the studio.

What’s the actual sound generation facility on RP-PRO?

There are different sound sample packs that are built into the actual unit. Full digital synthesis of drums, bass, and lead synths. It has standard FX features, filter, delay, reverb, as well as something we’re calling “mouthfeel” which affects the sound in different ways. The keyboard also functions as a 16-step sequencer with four pages that allows up to 64 steps. There’s also an in menu mixer and onboard mic sampler, to allow you to add some of your own personality.

How did it come about making this musical connection / how did the campaign idea emerge with the client? Was it sort of – let’s do something with the product with music, or was there a more specific gestation?

Reese’s Puffs has been a part of the music scene since the classic “Reese’s Puffs Rap” hit the airwaves years ago. It’s even had a huge resurgence on TikTok this past year. Then they stepped everything up with a Travis Scott collaboration in 2019 and Lil Yacht in 2020. So there’s always an appetite from them to see how we can push the brand into music culture.

On our side we have a lot of music nerds and a few of them thought “What if we turn the back of the box into a synth?” 808s and Moogs are expensive so what if everyone could have the tech for only the price of a cereal box? And really that was it. RP loved it, and then working with DeepLocal it just grew to what it is now. And when we asked them “what if there was a version with buttons?” They were like “Hell yes.” And the RP-PRO was born.

Yeah, about that – whoa.

Playing with your food, on the AR version.

Any sense how these will get used musically, particularly as I understand the pro models are going to some specific individuals? (Hey, if y’all read CDM, shout at us. Have your agent call… my enormous team.)

We have a few partners who have received the pros. They’re being used to create video content, but more importantly it’s there’s to use in their studios to make any music they want.

And then for everyone else, we’ve got a pro surprise planned, but anyone can get their hands on the FX boxes and make music in AR like never before.

Now, disclosure – I did not get one, and this is not a paid spot for the cereal or the agency. But I know a lot of us have been curious ever since this came out. (And we do also like to keep tabs on how creative music tech is being used out in the world of marketing, so if this spurs ideas – go for it.)

Will be watching for what folks do with it.