The Olympics

Kellogg's Focuses on What Gets You Started in Olympics Push

Cereal Maker Sponsors Five Olympic Hopefuls, Though TV Spots During the Games Will Focus on Products

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Kellogg's newest campaign focuses on five Olympic hopefuls who get energy to compete from the company's well-known cereals.

In a switch from Kellogg's past Olympic efforts, the cereal maker is not featuring athletes who have already appeared in the Olympics. Instead, it selected five athletes in different events each hoping to secure a spot in the Olympics for the first time.

Kellogg's is using a new tagline, "What Gets You Started," in its Olympics marketing that kicks off Thursday, tying the Olympics to the idea that cereal can help people start their days. "Kellogg's being a cereal company, the start is so important for us," said Andy Shripka, associate marketing director for the Kellogg's brand.

Image of Frosted Flakes box featuring first-time Olympic hopeful Ajee' Wilson
Image of Frosted Flakes box featuring first-time Olympic hopeful Ajee' Wilson Credit: Kellogg's

"What Gets You Started" is an update to the line Kellogg's used during the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games, "From Great Starts Come Great Things."

The five athletes Kellogg's is sponsoring are paralympic discus thrower Natalie Bieule, soccer player Julie Johnston, swimmer Tom Shields, gymnast Simone Biles and runner Ajee' Wilson. Each will have special Kellogg's cereal boxes in stores in June and July.

A 60-second video (above) shows the five athletes going through their morning routines, which include cereal and their workouts. Kellogg's, the largest cereal maker in the world, has brands including Raisin Bran, Special K, Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes.

Focusing on the morning routine is one way Kellogg's is trying to boost cereal sales. In February, Chairman and CEO John Bryant said he expected the U.S. cereal business to return to growth in 2016. At the same time, it has been trying to position cereal as a nighttime snack.

The company does not plan to run the athletes' video as a TV commercial. Instead, commercials on NBC during the Games will focus on individual brand messages, though Kellogg's is looking at ways to tie those together with the "What Gets You Started" idea, Mr. Shripka said. Kellogg's will also sponsor special video segments as part of the deal it has with NBC, he added.

"We just found these first-time Olympians to be really relatable, because they're not superstars," Mr. Shripka said. "They're working hard to achieve a dream, and their dream just happens to be in athletics."

Meanwhile, rival General Mills has added two Olympic medalists to its "Team Wheaties" in recent months, swimmer Missy Franklin and runner Allyson Felix. General Mills is not a Team USA sponsor, but can feature Olympic athletes in advertising under Rule 40.

Kellogg's is an official sponsor of Team USA. And it said that according to the U.S. Olympic Committee, first-time Olympians have made up more than 55% of Team USA at the past four Olympic Games.

Using only newcomers is a switch for Kellogg's, which in the past included some athletes who had already been to the Olympics. For example, Kellogg's featured swimmer Rebecca Soni as she added to her medal count at the 2012 London Games.

Kellogg's marketing kicks off Thursday with events in New York including Ms. Wilson running 800 meters, Ms. Biles doing a beam routine, Ms. Johnston at a soccer event with kids, and Ms. Bieule showing people her throwing technique. The company is also using VR content to give a unique view of Mr. Shields that was filmed in an outdoor pool where he trains.

Along with the boxes available before the Olympic Games, Kellogg's also plans to feature medalists on boxes later on, particularly any athletes who win medals during their first Games appearance.

Krispr, a branch of Edelman devoted to Kellogg's, is the lead agency on the project with VML on digital.

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