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SYDNEY-The crowded $450 million ready-to-eat breakfast cereal bowl is being stirred up with the repositioning of the country's leading brand.

Sanitarium Foods' Weet-Bix has broken a $6 million ad blitz, its first from Campaign Palace, which replaced Grey Advertising last September, breaking up a 60-year marriage.

The new ad strategy positions Weet-Bix as good for the whole family and not just for kids emphasizing that the cereal is healthy and a good food for smart people.

Although the biscuit-like cereal has always had a healthy formula, it has been aimed at children with the jingle "Aussie kids are Weet-Bix kids," heard by Australians for at least a generation.

The new ads, which started blanketing the country in January at a level at least double previous budgets, emphasize that it is smart to have a healthy breakfast with Weet-Bix no matter what your age.

Two 60-second TV spots show vignettes of people eating the cereal and end with the tagline, "I hope you've had your Weet-Bix." Audio tells viewers to "concentrate on this" while a bowl of the cereal is seen on the screen. The familiar jingle is expected to be gradually phased out over time although company and agency execs would not discuss those plans.

Radio commercials and outdoor, new to Sanitarium's media mix in its effort to reach adults, carry the same message.

Home-grown Weet-Bix has been the volume leader in ready-to-eat cereals for years, with a 17.5% share, which has held steady against No. 2 Kellogg's Cornflakes with 10.8% and No. 3 Uncle Toby's Vita Brits with 7.2%.

But Kellogg's has the advantage of dominating the overall market, with more than a 60% share, producing all but two of the top ten brands that account for the bulk of cereal sales.

Weet-Bix and Vita Brits, on the other hand, are the only major brands marketed by their respective companies.

There is a lot at stake: the ready-to-eat cereal market is one of the largest grocery categories in Australia.

With Weet-Bix's move and anticipated competitive responses, total media spending is expected to climb about 15% to $40 million, with most-$25 million-coming from Kellogg this year. The company's latest effort, which broke earlier this year, is a $4 million-plus campaign by Leo Burnett Connaghan & May for Sustain, a health-oriented cereal which uses athletes to endorse the product.

In a new TV commercial, Australian champion Zali Steggall is seen skiing in New Zealand's South Alps while audio emphasizes that the cereal increases stamina. The spot also notes the company's sponsorship of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

Kellogg's most heavily advertised brand is Cornflakes, whose long-running campaign stops people and asks their opinions about the cereal. Another significant brand is Special K, which continues with several year-old advertising using women's body shapes that fade into the `K'. Burnett also handles these brands.

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