MapMyFitness users can literally vote with their feet for the next face of Wheaties

By Jonah Comstock
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wheatiesWheaties might be the only cereal where the box is more famous than the food inside. Since the 1930s, the front of the "breakfast of champions" box has been dedicated to a sports star of the day, including the likes of Lou Gehrig, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods. Now mobile health is finding its way onto the cover of the box -- or at least, helping determine its fate.

General Mills, which makes the sports-affiliated cereal, has teamed up with MapMyFitness (now a subsidiary of Under Armour) to allow customers to choose the next Wheaties athlete for the first time. And rather than voting via text message or on a website, customers will actually vote with their feet -- each workout logged with MapMyFitness will count additional votes toward their athlete of choice. General Mills will also make donations to each athlete's chosen charity based on the number of workouts logged for them. 

Contenders include UFC Champion Anthony Pettis, competing for the Gadzuric Foundation and Exploit No More; US women's soccer player Christen Press, competing for Grassroots Soccer, adaptive sprinter Blake Leeper, competing for the Challenged Athletes Foundation; Motocross rider Ryan Dungey, competing for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; and major league lacrosse player Rob Pannell, competing for Playworks.

MapMyFitness currently boasts around 26 million users across its four apps -- MapMyFitness, MapMyRun, MapMyRide, MapMyWalk. Users will be able to vote through any of the apps, either manually or via a wearable activity tracker, or by logging workouts online.

We've seen a few apps start to dabble in the space of using charitable donations to motivate behavior change in the past -- in particular, Janssen's Care4Today app gives donations to charity when users take their medications on time, on the theory that sometimes people will do things for others they have a hard time doing for themselves. And, of course, competitions have long been a driving force for employee wellness programs focused on increasing movement and for kid's programs like Zamzee.

The Wheaties-MapMyFitness promotion combines both approaches -- competition and charity -- while also exposing sports fans who might not be familiar with fitness and wellness apps to the world of smartphone-connected workout tracking. Just as Wheaties and athletes have often partnered to promote each other, now the General Mills and Under Armour subsidiaries will help raise each others' profile for their respective users.

This is not the first big consumer promotion play for MapMyFitness. Even before the Under Armour acquisition, the company worked with Purina, a subsidiary of Nestle, to encourage dog owners -- and their pets -- to get out and walk more.