RXBar CMO Victor Lee on the brand's move into oats and why he likes healthy competition
RXBar is pushing further beyond its protein bar heritage by diving into another category where there’s already plenty of competition: oats.
Yes, the bar company acquired by Kellogg Co. in 2017 is getting into the cereal business. Clearly, it’s aware of PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats and the other products that try to compete against that behemoth. And it’s going into that category anyway.
“Healthy competition is always good,” RXBar Chief Marketing Officer Victor Lee says on the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast. “If you don’t have competition you start to question well, why are we doing this?”
RXBar, which started about six years ago after plenty of other protein bars were on the market, about a year ago expanded into nut butters and smaller bars for kids. These were products that weren’t creating new categories, but instead were challenging the existing lines in those categories. Now, it hopes to expand further beyond its roots with oats. The premise for the single-serve oats cup, hitting the market this fall, is that it can be made quickly with hot water or with liquid in the microwave. Unlike cups or packets of instant oats, the RX Oats product can also be used to make overnight oats.
Lee joined RXBar at the beginning of 2019 after seven years in marketing at Hasbro, where he had seen the bars in the company cafeteria. He didn’t have much experience in the food industry, other than working on accounts such as Miller during his years at Digitas prior to Hasbro. He also hadn’t worked in the toy industry before joining that company.
“The principle, and what you do and how you do it, that stays the same,” says Lee.
“The best marketing campaign is when the consumer doesn’t know they were being marketed to,” says Lee.
In late 2018 and early 2019 RXBar recalled a wide variety of its bars. While the bars are known for distinctive packaging that highlights the main ingredients, they were recalled because they may have contained undeclared peanuts.
Now, it’s up to Lee to lead the company’s next marketing push.
“We’re still holding true to our core message. But what you’ll see in the new campaign is we’re going to highlight more who we are as a product...who we are as what we stand for,” he says of the company's upcoming work.
Whether Ice-T returns or another celebrity appears in the campaign remains to be seen. Lee teased “a lot of good surprises.”