Kellogg's Olympic Push Begins Well Before the Winter Games

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Kellogg's athlete boxes
Kellogg's athlete boxes Credit: Kellogg's

Kellogg Co. is promoting two prior Olympic medalists and two Winter Games newcomers as the marketer tries to inspire Americans to support Team USA and buy more of its cereals, of course.

The maker of Corn Flakes and other pantry staples announced four athletes for its marketing team: Nathan Chen, Kelly Clark, Meghan Duggan and Mike Schultz.

While the Winter Games don't draw the U.S. viewership of the Summer Games, Kellogg hopes its new roster of sponsored athletes can continue the momentum it got in 2016 with a group that included gymnast Simone Biles, who went on to become a five-time medalist in Rio. And it could use the boost. Sales in Kellog's U.S. morning foods business, led by cereal, fell 6 percent in the first half of 2017 after a 2 percent decline in 2016.

Kellogg is sticking with last year's "What gets you started?" slogan for the Games, which start Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, Korea. The Team USA sponsor is highlighting newcomers and those who have been to the Games before, while in 2016 its roster was filled with newcomers.

The focus is on earned media moments, led by a video set to be shared by the company and athletes on social media. Kellogg is also planning Games watching events at its upcoming new cafe location in New York and what Sam Minardi, director of brand marketing, describes as "surprise athlete moments."

Individual Kellogg brands could run ads during the Games but there are no plans for a company Olympic ad buy, consistent with what Kellogg did in 2016, he says. Kellogg says it hasn't yet seen an impact from competitors running ads featuring Olympic athletes, which is now allowed after a U.S. Olympic Committee rule change went into effect for the Rio Games.

The 2018 Winter Games are still 101 days away, but Kellogg's Olympic push kicks off Monday in New York where it's displaying athlete cereal boxes hitting stores in December and showing the video.

Chen, the 2017 U.S. men's figure skating champion, will appear on boxes of Corn Flakes. Clark, a three-time U.S. Olympic medalist in snowboarding, will appear on Corn Flakes boxes in stores and on boxes of Special K Red Berries available through the KelloggStore website. Duggan, who has won two Olympic medals in ice hockey, will also appear on boxes of Corn Flakes in stores, and on Special K boxes sold on the site. Schultz, the other Olympic newcomer, is a U.S. national Paralympic snowboarder who will appear on boxes of Frosted Flakes.

Kellogg's roster of four athletes may expand preceding or during the Games, Minardi says.

While the push may seem early to some, it's much later than the last Winter Games. In 2013, nine athletes were announced for Team Kellogg's a year before the Sochi Games.

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