With Oatmeal Sexy Again, Quaker Wants in on Action

Company Creates New Campaign, Boosts Spending by 50% in Wake of Fast Feeders' Focus on Breakfast Item

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Oatmeal, that mushy morning staple, has become the "it" breakfast item.

It's been a big win for Starbucks and Jamba Juice, McDonald's is planning a national rollout for early next year, and now Quaker is hoping a revamped lineup and new campaign will boost its business by double digits.

The new 'Amazing Mornings' campaign from Juniper Park, Toronto asks consumers 'Does your breakfast make you amazing?'
The new 'Amazing Mornings' campaign from Juniper Park, Toronto asks consumers 'Does your breakfast make you amazing?'
Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer at Quaker, admits that more consumers are eating oatmeal outside the home. Unfortunately for Quaker, fewer appear to be eating it inside the home. According to SymphonyIRI Group, overall hot cereal/oatmeal sales were down 2% to $872 million in 2009 and are down 5% year-to-date in supermarkets, drugstores and mass-market retailers, excluding Walmart. Likewise, sales of Quaker's hot cereals and oatmeal are down. In 2009, sales fell 8% to $510 million and year-to-date sales are down 6% to $293 million.

Still, Ms. Lynch said she doesn't consider Starbucks, Jamba Juice or McDonald's to be competitors. "Quaker is excited that these companies are adding healthy options, such as oatmeal, to their breakfast menus," she said. "Our research tells us that out-of-home oatmeal consumption is growing, so this is great for the category. This type of trend usually translates to retail sales within 12 months."

To that end, Quaker is investing in a campaign with the theme "Amazing Mornings." Ms. Lynch declined to reveal specifics of the brand's media outlay but said spending would be up 50% in the second half. Last year, Quaker spent $13 million on measured media to promote its hot cereal and instant oatmeal in the second half, according to Kantar Media.

The campaign from new agency Juniper Park, Toronto, replaces "Go, Humans, Go," which was created by former agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners. It asks the question, "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" and is based on the insight that, while most Americans realize breakfast is important, less than half eat it every day.

"The 'Amazing Mornings' campaign builds upon our previous work, and we feel that it is a natural evolution from a narrow focus on the power of the oat to a broader more holistic imperative to make health and wellness accessible for everyone," said Ms. Lynch.

All of Quaker's instant-oatmeal products are being upgraded to a larger, whole-grain oat, which gives the oatmeal a heartier texture. Sugar in three signature varieties is also being slashed by 25%. And two new products, Mix-Up Creations Instant Oatmeal, which targets kids, and Hearty Medleys Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal, which features real nuts and fruits, are being added to the lineup.

The campaign includes TV, print, digital and social media. Quaker has also partnered with fitness trainer Bob Harper of "The Biggest Loser."

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