cereal to snacks and even dog food, brands are pushing energy as a
selling point like never before. The newest buzzword is
"sustainable energy," meaning foods that keep you full and fueled
for longer periods.
PepsiCo-owned Quaker is among the most aggressive
brands trying to capitalize on America's apparent sluggishness. A
new campaign includes a TV ad showing people nodding off on buses,
at work and at home, while encouraging consumers to fight the
"human energy crisis" with the "good energy of Quaker" and its
array of oatmeal-based products, from bars to hot cereal. The ads
are by the Chicago office of BBDO, which is coincidentally known as Energy
Advertising Age Player
"What makes a modern mom different their parents'
generation is they embrace the chaos," said Quaker Chief Marketing
Officer Justin Lambeth. "They are not looking for the escape
moment," he added, but want a good energy source to get them
through the day.
The campaign includes a microsite that tabulates the nation's
energy level in real time by scrubbing Twitter for terms like
tired, awake, alert and exhausted. On a recent day, the America's
energy level was described as "need a nap." The agency behind the
site is Organic.
In a paid
integration with Mashable, Quaker plans to publish a quarterly
"Human Energy Index" that summarizes findings from the site. Quaker
is even trying to break the results down by state, saying that so
far Louisiana is the most exhausted state, followed by Mississippi,
Hawaii, Alabama and Delaware.
Mondelez International has launched a new campaign called
"#MorningWin" for its belVita breakfast biscuits, which are
cookie-like in appearance. The effort, by Droga5, includes a TV ad showing a
woman powering through a dizzying array of activities thanks to the
biscuits, which are touted as being "carefully baked to release
steady energy all morning long."
The brand is also calling on consumers to tweet
"#MorningWin to @belVita for the chance to get personalized
certificates, videos and real and virtual trophies that are
"customized to celebrate the specific feat."
Foods has released a new line of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal
branded as "Morning Energy" that the marketer says is "packed with
whole grain, protein and fiber."
The energy appeals are driven by changing consumer
attitudes, said Amanda Topper, a food industry analyst with market
researcher Mintel. Rather than looking for a "one-and-done quick
energy fix like you might get with an energy drink" more consumers
are seeking "sustained energy, specifically from protein and fiber
content from foods," she said.
Even dog food brands are barking about energy.
Nestlé Purina PetCare recently debuted Prime nutritional
supplement bars for pups that are billed as "nutrient-dense,
protein-rich" bars meant to be fed to pooches a half-hour before
exercise. "He will be able to do what you want him to do for a
longer period of time," according to a Purina press release.
Energy Bars for Dogs?
The product was launched along with another bar called
Refuel that is meant to replenish muscle energy after exercise. The
marketer recently promoted the bars at an event in New York City
that pitted NFL star Eli Manning and other athletes against dogs in
a variety of physical challenges.
Quaker is banking on the power of the oat as a way to
win over humans. A spokeswoman cited a study published in the
Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggesting that
oatmeal produces a greater feeling of fullness and reduction in
hunger compared with ready-to-eat cereal.
Such findings are behind a packaging tweak on Quaker
Oats that claims the oatmeal "helps keep you full through the
morning." In January, Quaker ran full-page "manifesto" print ads in
People magazine and The New York Times that asked consumers, "What
Would You Do if You Had the Energy?" The ad stated that Quaker
doesn't "just want you to enjoy our product; we want you to feel
the good energy of Quaker."
The hot-cereal category, including oatmeal, is showing
signs of strength. U.S. sales grew by 7.2% from 2011 to 2013,
reaching nearly $1.4 billion in sales, according to Mintel.
Quaker's hot cereal sales grew by 0.9% in the 52 weeks ending Dec.
1 to $705 million, giving the brand a 56.8% share, according to
IRI. Sales of private-label competitors, which account for the
second-most sales, grew by 1.7% in that time to $318.7 million.
predicted that hot cereal will continue to grow, fueled by its
"perceived health benefits and innovations catered to Americans'
taste and nutrition preferences." The cold-cereal segment is much
larger, but it has struggled to compete with new breakfast options
such as yogurt. Category sales fell by 0.7% from 2011 to 2013
ending at $10.1 billion, according to Mintel.
trends sluggish, some cold-cereal stalwarts are dipping their toes
into the hot-cereal category. Kellogg Co. late last
year began selling Special K Nourish Hot Cereal, which is described
as a multi-grain blend of "superfoods" like quinoa, oats, wheat and
barley topped with dried fruit and nuts. One TV ad by Leo Burnett promotes the product as "helping
you truly shine."
At Quaker, the new-product pipeline is highlighted by
Warm and Crunchy Granola, which the marketer says is a
"first-of-its-kind hot cereal" that combines oatmeal with with the
"satisfying crunch of multigrain granola."
"Consumers know and understand the nutritional value
of oats," Mr. Lambeth said. But "they still think of it as largely
contained to a small number of products, like oatmeal," he said.
"Our job is to show them the versatility of oats and how we can
bring the power of the oat and the energy of oats to consumers in a
variety of different products."
E.J. Schultz is the News Editor for Ad Age, overseeing breaking news and daily coverage. He also contributes reporting on the beverage, automotive and sports marketing industries. He is a former reporter for McClatchy newspapers, including the Fresno Bee, where he covered business and state government and politics.