Kellogg's were criticised in Channel 4's Dispatches today (June 2014) for using "Social Marketing" to target young kids with their sickly sugary cereal Krave . I caught them up to similar slimy behaviour in 2010
First published :
February 19, 2010 Friday
Feature - Kellogg's: a taste of dog farts;
Solomon Hughes explains how the government's big anti-obesity drive is being undermined by the involvement of big business
BYLINE: Solomon Hughes
Kellogg's is a "partner" in a Department of Health anti-obesity drive. And it is just about to launch a campaign to persuade young people to chomp through Krave, one of the most calorific breakfast cereals available.
Kellogg's is part of the Department of Health's Change4Life campaign. The cereal firm funds a few breakfast and swimming clubs and puts out the odd advert telling people to "move more."
Of course people need to move a whole lot more to shake off the calories squeezed into the company's sugary products.
In return, Health Minister Alan Johnson puts out statements praising Kellogg's for helping to "tackle the growing problem of obesity."
Most importantly, Kellogg's wards off any difficult regulations. The government is not going insist that its anti-obesity partners cover foods with awkward "not good for you" labels or launch a public health campaign that embarrasses the food giants.
So Kellogg's puts out Change4Life messages about the need to "eat better." But this month sees the launch of its Krave advertising drive to persuade teens to eat worse.
Krave is aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds and is made of "crispy cereal shells with a chocolate hazelnut filling."
Kellogg's claims it is "unleashing a new breed of cereal" with these unhealthy little parcels stuffed with a Nutella-like paste.
But in fact Krave is already available in France under the brand name Tresor. It comes in at around 440 calories every hundred grams - more calorific even than existing Kellogg's morning monstrosities such as Coco Rocks. They are 29 per cent sugar, 16 per cent fat.
Kellogg's got a company called Landor to market Tresor in France. Landor's data sheet on Tresor shows what Kellogg's wants to do with its chocolate paste parcels in Britain.
Landor says: "Teenagers are progressively rejecting the cereals of their childhood and opting for the bread and a spread option like their parents."
Kellogg's doesn't think 16 to 24-year-olds should eat adult food. So it wants to launch a war on toast.
Perhaps it will advertise Krave with the slogan "Don't grow up, eat our gunk." Or "Be a baby forever with Krave."
Kellogg's also wants people to suck on their processed lumps all day, because "Tresor has become a favorite snack for teenagers and no longer just a breakfast cereal."
Kellogg's claims to be backing the Change4 Life campaign, which suggests we "try replacing the unhealthy snacks with ones you don't mind them eating - fruit, oatcakes, breadsticks and frozen fruity ice-cubes."
However, the snack it really wants you to eat is a mixture of cereal flours, sugar, plant oil and dyes.
In the mind of Kellogg's, young adults are in the front line of the war against bread.
"There's a huge opportunity to grow breakfast and cereal consumption in the adult market by retaining young adults," Kellogg's sales director Mike Taylor told the Grocer magazine.
"We've focused on creating a brand that genuinely answers the demand of this market."
To get young adults craving Krave, Kellogg's is going for super-trendy "social marketing." Instead of just advertising the stuff on telly, it wants to push Krave on Facebook, by email campaigns, on message boards and the like, in a somewhat desperate effort to catch "the yoof."
Krave will also be advertised at music festivals and universities, which all suggests something a bit cynical in the marketing.
In France Kellogg's targeted young adults with the harmless name Tresor - or treasure.
But why would British teens crave cereal and want to cram it in their mouth at odd times of day or at music festivals?
Maybe this shows I am being cynical rather than Kellogg's marketers, but I know Munchies wasn't available as a trademark. Perhaps they felt "stoned" or "muntered" might be a bit too obvious.
Some of Krave's appearances on "social media" have already backfired. Sometimes attempts to make products look trendy just makes them look lame.
Constant messages - or spam - about Krave on student web boards irritated their readers so much that actual students started posting anti-marketing messages, including: "Hey student chums! I just tried this new Krave cereal by Kellogg's! It tasted really bad and made me throw up in my mouth a little."
And "After trying Kellogg's Krave I had to bleach my tongue to get the taste out of it. Gross! Do not buy this cereal."
And the delightful "I had a spoonful of new Kellogg's Krave cereal and it tasted like a dog had farted directly into my mouth."
A more sober judgement by one young taster in the Grocer magazine, who was previewing the product for shopkeepers.
She noted that the cereal "goes a bit slimy when you add milk."
To which I can only add that government anti-obesity policy goes a bit slimy when you add corporations.