Why Is Kellogg So Hot? It's Focused on Consumer

Q&A: First Find Big Idea, Says CMO Baynes, Then Surround Target With It

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Mark Baynes, recently named chief marketing officer, Kellogg North America and Global Coordination, has inherited marketing oversight of a food company that's a Wall Street darling. The 45-year-old Mr. Baynes, a 17-year Kellogg veteran who was most recently senior VP-marketing for the company's morning-foods division, discussed with Stephanie Thompson how he plans to keep the momentum.
Mark Baynes, Kellogg's CMO, says one of his challenges is to focus on market research and increase 'consumer-centricity.'
Mark Baynes, Kellogg's CMO, says one of his challenges is to focus on market research and increase 'consumer-centricity.' Credit: Scott Breithaupt

Advertising Age: What is your first order of business?

Mark Baynes: We have an incredibly talented marketing organization, which is reflected in our business performance: We've grown share in virtually every category in North America over the last four to five years. I want to build on that and contribute toward making Kellogg a global powerhouse, developing more stewardship and guidance, cementing our belief system in how we build brands, getting the right talent, creating best practices and sharing them globally with speed. Like everyone else, we're also focused on the new-media world. We've done great work there, but we want to use that to understand better its role and contribution. We've also put a lot of focus on marketing in the past, not as much against market research, but increasingly, consumer-centricity will win the battle of the brands.

AA: How important is new media to Kellogg?

Mr. Baynes: I don't see it as just a lemming rush to the new digital space. ... Like everyone else, we're still pushing to understand how to measure performance in the space better, but at the same time ensure that concern for ROI doesn't become a limit on our creativity and exploration. The danger in that is it could set us back. We are doing a lot of research with our media company to determine how to use the surround-sound of media to build a picture of a brand. If you have the same dialogue [with consumers] in the same place 365 days a year, you're never going to strengthen that relationship. It's boring. Once you have an idea around a brand, it's about how you surround the consumer with that idea.

AA: Special K is definitely an "idea" success story. How do you replicate that?

Mr. Baynes: If you looked at [Special] K five years ago, you wouldn't have thought it would be where it was today. The Special K Challenge diet idea transformed the brand globally. More recently, ideas around using K as a nighttime snack and informing consumers that breakfast eaters have lower Body Mass Indexes all have helped connect the brand with the consumer, and that's where the sustainability of our brands lies. You can look at any of our big brands and we're doing that; for example Frosted Flakes with Earn Your Stripes, a message that encourages kids' activity. One of the primary points of my stewardship is that we need to have as strong a pipeline of core consumer ideas as we do a pipeline of innovation ideas.

AA: Ninety days into the job, what do you think your staff would say about you?

Mr. Baynes: There would be some interesting reactions. I'm known, probably, as a passionate brand advocate. ... I want to make sure that our global marketing agencies hunt down and search ways to make those brands relevant with new and fresh ideas. We have to love everything we put into the marketplace.
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