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Kellogg USA is raising the ad budget for its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal 37% for the coming year-to an estimated $35 million to $40 million. There is no greater testimony to the power of advertising.

Kellogg says its "aggressive investment in marketing initiatives" has driven the runaway success of Frosted Mini-Wheats, now the nation's third-largest cereal brand-behind only Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and General Mills' Cheerios.

But a competitor specifically credits the creative for the boom in the brand's sales, which have doubled to $260 million, and a 3.4% share, just since 1990.

"It's the clarity of the proposition ... perfectly played out in the advertising, that's made the brand work," the competing executive says.

Originally launched in 1969, Frosted Mini-Wheats got a big boost in 1988, when Kellogg added a bite-size variety that now accounts for 60% of sales. But Kellogg freely admits advertising has been the key to Frosted Mini-Wheats' success.

During 10 years of explosive growth, the brand has been supported by a TV campaign from Leo Burnett USA that focuses on how Frosted Mini-Wheats brings out the "Kid in you."

The product, shredded wheat with a light frosting on just one side, represents both sides of the nutrition/taste equation critical in the $9 billion cereal category.

"Adults like to say they want nutritious cereals, while all the time craving delicious ones," wrote Kellogg in a brochure. "Our adult effort talks to this duality."

Kellogg and Burnett abandoned the campaign briefly, only to quickly resurrect the theme two years ago. When they did, they also introduced a secondary ad effort targeting children. That "Perfect angel" campaign boosted kid consumption of Frosted Mini-Wheats by more than 20% last year alone; kids now account for 30% of the brand's sales, Kellogg says.

How big can Frosted Mini-Wheats grow? Well, it's already zoomed past such core Kellogg brands as Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes.

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