Kellogg’s – that icon of the breakfast cereal market – has had something of a bumpy roller-coaster ride over the past week.
A week ago, my colleague Rebecca Prescott posted a story on this website about a new report by the company telling us that the traditional English breakfast is dying out, with the majority of us now opting for a more continental-style croissant or even a biscuit for breakfast.
The report, commissioned by Nutri-grain, discovered that a lack of time, health concerns and a willingness to try different cuisines emerged as the most common reasons for the ‘continentalisation’ of our first meal of the day.
Then at the beginning of this week, I posted a story with news that the cereal company had joined forces with The Dairy Council to launch a new promotion aimed at encouraging children to enjoy a nutrient-filled breakfast. This is a great opportunity for milk to be promoted on 25 million packs of cereal over the coming months and, as part of the promotion, Kellogg’s is giving away a promotional ‘Tip & Sip’ bowl. The bowl features a built-in straw, providing a fun way for children to sip up every last drop of milk.
Over the years of writing about the dairy industry, it always seemed to me that breakfast cereal and milk were ideal partners and I couldn't understand why there were not regular promotions between those food companies and dairy. So this promotion is great to see.
But before we got too excited, along came the UK’s advertising watchdog, 48 hours later, to spoil the party.
A TV ad for Kellogg’s Special K cereal showed women preparing breakfast. The ad featured a close-up of milk being poured over a bowl of the cereal. The voiceover talked about enjoying a delicious bowl of Special K at 114 calories, while onscreen text stated ‘114 Kcals and 0.6g fat per 30g serving’.
A complainant, who understood the 114 calories did not include milk, objected that the ad was misleading. The Advertising Standards Authority agreed and ordered Kellogg’s to pull the ad in its current form.
The company argued that not all consumers ate their cereal with milk. Many ate it dry, with yogurt or with orange juice. They also pointed out that there were many different kinds of milk, each with different calorie levels. But the ASA was unmoved. The fact that milk was a prominent part of the advert meant the consumer was likely to be confused.
Who’d be a breakfast cereal manufacturer?
Geoff Platt is editor of Dairy Innovation magazine.