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«EFFIE AWARDS BRIEF OF EFFECTIVENESS Cheerios: The Heart Conversation Brand Name: Cheerios Product Type or Description: Breakfast Cereal Category for ...»

EFFIE AWARDS

BRIEF OF EFFECTIVENESS

Cheerios: The Heart Conversation

Brand Name: Cheerios

Product Type or Description: Breakfast Cereal

Category for this Entry: Breakfast Foods

Campaign Title: The Heart Conversation

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

Client: General Mills

Marketing Challenge Ready-To-Eat but Not Enough Eaters Ready-to-eat cereal is an $8 billion category. For 40 consecutive years after World War II, its growth compounded by more than four percent annually. But in 1996 and 1997, things changed. Pound volume for the category dropped by 1.8 percent. What’s worse, the big, long-established brands that were the top 10—from Frosted Flakes, Corn Flakes, and Cheerios to Rice Krispies, Lucky Charms, and Post Premium Raisin Bran—were down 3.4 percent.

Cheerios fared better than the other nine. It was down 2.2 percent. But the category was living with tumultuous market conditions. Post dropped its on-shelf cost for each Post cereal to $2.99, triggering an all-out price war.

Kellogg’s cut prices as much as 20 percent. One direct competitor of Cheerios, the private-label Toasty 0’s, began selling for a full $1.00 less. Focusing almost entirely on price discounting rather than benefit marketing, the entire category simply ignored the concept of brand building among consumers.

Key General Mills, Inc. executives met with their agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. GMI vice chairman Charlie Gaillard and its Big G Division president Jeff Rotsch let Mike Burns, vice chairman of the agency’s Core Group Division, and Scott Buckley, agency V.P. and management supervisor, know that Cheerios was not about to fight that raging price war. Slash prices? No—Cheerios was unwilling and unable to go that route. What was needed, all agreed, was some way to attract new users from a target market that had not yet been tapped. If Cheerios could be imbued with enough “benefit value,” that would offset the premium pricing at the shelf and help turn the business around despite the in creasing price sensitivity of the market.

There was one given: Historically, Cheerios had been consumed in households that had kids. Maybe this fact pointed to a fresh opportunity to leverage the brand’s strong nutritional credentials with America’s largest growth segment, the Baby Boomers. They knew the brand.

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1998: The information available through effie.org is the property of the New York American Marketing Association and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the New York American Marketing Association.

Two other factors came into play. First, as Baby Boomers aged, they became more and more concerned about health. Second, research findings by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were now identifying Cheerios as the number-one ready-to-eat form of whole grain oats that could be linked to improved heart-health. Didn’t that open a window of opportunity?

Campaign Objectives Increase Awareness and Add Value The client-agency team pulled together a set of four objectives to be achieved by endowing the brand with a

distinctive “added value”:

–  –  –

The target audience seemed well defined: Baby Boomer adults who were 45-plus. But agency executive creative directors Jerry Boyle, senior V.P., and Gary Weintraub, V.P., discussed a key point with GM’s Bob Blake, V.P.advertising, and Peter Capell, V.P.-marketing director: Many boomers already think of Cheerios as a wholesome cereal. But they also think of it as a childhood brand. At their age, how can they seriously consider it a serious nutritional cereal that is appropriate for them?

–  –  –

The creative strategy would have to face up to that simple but fundamental question. The message would have to convince those middle-aged adults that Cheerios is the only leading ready-to-eat cereal that has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. That concept had one outstanding advantage: It was a proprietary benefit, for Cheerios was the only leading cereal that could meet the FDA standard. And such a benefit could justify the onshelf price premium that Cheerios commanded—30 cents higher than Kellogg’s and 50 cents higher than Post.

The news about Cheerios had to be given some dimension. So the creative strategy presented the Cheerios brand as the catalyst that makes any situation, even the subject of heart disease, a little brighter and more optimistic.

“People want to take better care of themselves,” proposed the key consumer insight, “so they can be there for loved ones.” The executional format leveraged the upbeat values in every package of Cheerios so they traded on the emotional equity of key relationships in peoples’ lives, such as that of husband and wife.

Each television execution put a special, signature end-visual to work: The classic white bowl on the Cheerios package “morphed” into a heart-shape. The treatment graphically reinforced the heart-health benefit of the cereal and provided the consumer in the store with a tangible reminder of the good news about Cheerios.





–  –  –

1998: The information available through effie.org is the property of the New York American Marketing Association and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the New York American Marketing Association.

Other Communications Programs

Getting the Word Out

Because there was indeed news to be communicated, Cheerios initiated a multi-faceted program to heighten the immediacy and impact of the tidings. The “Heart Conversation” TV spot was supplemented by print executions designed to spread the news to key industry opinion leaders through newspapers and trade publications. A fullblown public-relations program was created. It went on to receive the coveted annual Silver Anvil award from the Public Relations Society of America. It also promoted nationwide satellite news conferences, among leading cardiologists and marketing representatives of Cheerios, to study the FDA findings.

News-Desk Thinking

Media planners know how critical timing can be. But none ever faced tighter challenges than the two presented by the Cheerios situation. First, to capitalize on the news, the new “Heart Conversation” campaign had to debut nationwide within 24 hours of the FDA announcement on January 23, 1997. Second, because key competitors were outspending Cheerios by as much as 50 percent all year long, media selection had to be carefully pinpointed

against two key objectives:

–  –  –

How to accomplish these objectives? Forget the traditional media plans that concentrated on Mom. Instead, to heighten the news and excitement of the Cheerios message, buy time (to gain immediacy of message, some 90 percent of the dollars were spent in television) on different, not-previously used vehicles targeted to adults. This meant a heavy mix of nightly network news telecasts, local-market noon and late-night news, and programming formatted for prime-time news, such as Primetime Live, Dateline, and 48 Hours. All with a total budget that was less than $10 million.

How about that other 10 percent? It went mainly to print. The news-oriented TV schedule was supplemented by fullpage newspaper ads placed adjacent to the FDA announcement. Schedules included the major markets, as well as national coverage via USA Today. And to inform as well as excite the trade, an ad was developed for Supermarket News, the largest trade publication in that field.

–  –  –

Awareness, Volume, Knock Off the Knock-Off, Core Consumers What happened? As client and agency reviewed their original four objectives 20 weeks after the campaign broke,

the results were clear:

–  –  –

1998: The information available through effie.org is the property of the New York American Marketing Association and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast the information to anyone without the prior written consent of the New York American Marketing Association.

Result: The business growth of Cheerios came right out of the hide of its private-label knock-off, Toasty 0’s, whose base-line volume dropped by 2.4 percent.

–  –  –

No question—this growth proved that the campaign had successfully attracted new users who became core consumers. And by the end of September 1997, General Mills knew that Cheerios had recorded its highest volume share in more than 52 weeks. Sales momentum had continued, without a hiccup, for nine straight months.

–  –  –

1998: The information available through effie.org is the property of the New York American Marketing Association and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. This brief may be displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal use only. By using this site, you agree not to reproduce, retransmit, distribute, sell, publicly display, publish or broadcast



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