Magazine article Marketing

Why Kellogg Has Crossed the Thin Line

Magazine article Marketing

Why Kellogg Has Crossed the Thin Line

Article excerpt

Kellogg's move to throw off its solid, homely image by running shock ads focusing on eating disorders could alienate many consumers. But there are good commercial reasons for taking such a risk.

There are a few sure-fire ways of making your advertising work harder. Showing a bit of cleavage is one; witness Wonderbra's classic poster campaign or, more recently, Age Concern's well-endowed 'mature' model.

The latest creative trend appears to be anorexia. Calvin Klein could be accused of starting it all with its androgynous models. Accurist took a different slant with its 'Put some weight on' campaign. But now, shock horror, that homely Midwest company Kellogg is at it.

The cereal giant's ad in The Independent last week, which tackled the issue of teenage fad eating, generated a disproportionate amount of publicity, including a major item on Channel 4 News.

Far from being surprised by the controversy, Kellogg and its public relations agency, Hill & Knowlton, were well prepared. Statements were issued quickly and spokesmen made available. A raised profile is, after all, a principal reason for a corporate advertising campaign.

But why has Kellogg changed the direction of its advertising so dramatically? It was only last year that the company was using the matriarchal Mrs K character to reflect its solid, homespun brand values, backed by its 'We never make cereals for anyone else' claim.

Six months after that campaign began, Mrs K has been pensioned off and the focus has switched to nutrition and the pressures of modern life.

Paul Murray, senior marketing manager at Kellogg UK and a driving force behind the new campaign, claims the company is going "back to its roots".

He draws a parallel with a phrase used by founder Will Kellogg at the beginning of the century: "[We are] making quality products for a healthier world."

Matter of trust

A strategic turning point was The Henley Centre's report 'Planning for Social Change' (Marketing, October 23 1997), which named Kellogg as the most trusted brand in the UK, with a score even higher than such institutions as the Church and the police.

At this point, Kellogg asked itself why it was campaigning so hard for consumer trust when it already had such high status.

"Our last campaign was all about quality and choice, but all companies look at these issues. What we were not doing was addressing the big issues of the day," says Murray.

So the company went back to the drawing board with advertising agency Leo Burnett.

At the end of last year they ran a series of focus groups to determine what consumers saw as important issues and came up with weight control, stress control and family health. …

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