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Quaker Oats Co. is redefining oatmeal as soul food.

The tagline for a new fall campaign for Quaker's flagship oatmeal products: "Warms you, heart and soul." The TV and print effort highlights real people -- townsfolk of Lafayette, Colo. -- who helped lower their cholesterol by eating Quaker oatmeal for 30 days.

"Spotlighting a town and the voices of its everyday people is unprecedented in Quaker's advertising campaigns," said Sally Kroha, director of Quaker oatmeal advertising.


But the soul theme and the real-people approach are not unprecedented in the ad world.

A Campbell Soup Co. campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York, also uses a similar tack, carrying the tag "Good for the body, good for the soul." And Kraft Foods' new umbrella campaign from J. Walter Thompson USA, Chicago, uses documentary footage of real people.

About 100 Lafayette residents took up Quaker's "Smart Heart" challenge; 98 managed to lower cholesterol an average of 24 points as a result. Eleven of them are featured in seven TV spots and one print ad created by Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago; the ads break Sept. 1.

In one TV spot, a police officer named Dan is pictured in front of a sign showing a speed limit of 30 mph, detailing how his cholesterol dropped by 29 points. Others show residents against backdrops of numbers -- bingo signs, price markers -- that equal the number of points their cholesterol fell.

The same cast of characters also will grace boxes of Quaker oatmeal products -- Quaker Toasted Oatmeal, Quaker Toasted Oatmeal Squares, Quaker Instant Oatmeal and regular Quaker Oatmeal.


Ms. Kroha said the two ready-to-eat cereals will receive separate advertising, as will its new kids' product, Quaker's Dino Eggs. But the Lafayette "Warms you" campaign will be the baseline effort supporting all Quaker's other hot cereals this year.

Quaker spent about $35 million in measured media across the oatmeal lines last year, a figure that's expected to pick up this year. In recent earnings reports, Quaker has said marketing spending on hot cereal declined as it turned its attention to new snack bars and its booming bagged cereals business. Partly as a result, oatmeal has experienced sales declines that the company attributes to warm weather.

Even after Quaker won Food & Drug Administration approval two years ago to make claims about oatmeal's ability to lower cholesterol, sales have flattened. And the approval, which opened the doors for other oatmeal marketers to make similar claims, hasn't grown the $683.9 million category much, Information Resources Inc. figures show.


According to IRI, oatmeal sales were flat for the 52 weeks ended July 19, and Quaker's brands were down slightly, 0.2%, to $410.5 million. Private-label oatmeal brands climbed 4.2% to $121.6 million.

The "Warms you, body and soul" theme is largely an evolution of Quaker's effort last year from FCB, the first campaign from the agency after winning the hot cereal business from Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York. That first FCB execution was set to the tune "Heart & Soul."

Booming footsteps and looming shadows start off this spot for new Quaker Oats' Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal (see story on opposite page), in which dino eggs "hatch" in oatmeal after hot water is poured on them. The commercial breaks Sept. 1 from Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago. The theme line for the Quaker Oats Co. cereal is "So good, it will make every bowl extinct."

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