Kellogg's Special K: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
Kellogg Co., in its efforts to improve ad efficiency, took its "Special K Challenge" online, and in the process gave a lift to a mature brand that's managed to stay in expansion mode.

Kellogg has continually promised to find ways to drive efficiencies. One way is to divert broadcast funds into online marketing. Chief marketer Mark Baynes said at a recent conference that "maybe the biggest opportunity over time is driven by what the digital environments afford."

The cereal itself gained immense popularity from the "Special K Challenge," which calls for two bowls of Special K every day for two weeks. Kellogg took the diet online with a website that develops nutrition and fitness plans; the site introduces some consumers to Special K extensions such as Bliss snack bars. Special K also partnered with Yahoo to form an e-mail group.

"More than ever, we know that women are looking for solutions online," says Teresa Lindsey-Houston, associate director-brand marketing, Special K Franchise. "We want ... to offer tools they need to stay on track."

The rewards have been sweet. In the past 18 months, Special K's online return on investment has surpassed that of broadcast by a factor of well over two. Sales of Kellogg's Special K ready-to-eat cereal have risen 17.7% year-to-date, as of Oct. 5, to $132.5 million, according to Information Resources Inc.

Kellogg's digital diet may help the marketer keep its marketing budget lean. The company will slash TV-commercial filming 10% to 20% in the next year.
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