Kellogg's seeks to shake off "old fashioned" Special K dieting perceptions

Kellogg's is repositioning its Special K breakfast cereal, with a focus on the nutritional benefits of the product.

The brand, which for years famously featured women dressed in red swimsuits in its ads, has launched a new campaign emphasising how Special K can play a role in "powering" women’s "lives, bodies and minds".

In the lead film, we see women at different moments of their day, from swimming while pregnant to taking a run in the park, alongside ingredients that make up the cereal. The aim is to emphasise the specific benefits of nutrients such as folic acid, iron and vitamin D.

The "Powering You" campaign, by Leo Burnett, will run across TV, print, outdoor and digital. It breaks today (26 December) in the UK and rolls out across Europe in the New Year.

Leo Burnett London chief creative officer Chaka Sobhani oversaw development of the campaign, with creative directors Oliver Farrington and Neil Richardson, and creatives Andrew Long and James Miller. Media planning and buying was handled by Carat.

Live-action footage was directed by Kinga Burza and produced by Forever, with food shots directed by Yann Secouet at 76 ltd.

After first ditching the red swimsuit style in 2012, the last major campaign, in 2015, for Special K was fronted by Strictly Come Dancing BBC presenter Tess Daly. It saw the brand attempt to focus more on wellbeing, but a subsequent ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after making misplaced health claims - a decision Kellogg’s insists was made on a "technicality".

Diet brand perception

Speaking to Campaign, Tracy Murphy, senior marketing director, Balance and Health, at Kellogg’s EMEA, said the aim of the new strategy is centred on a desire to encourage women to make "positive changes" to the role that food plays in their lives, and to reassess the Special K brand itself.

"We’re conscious that the brand is perceived by some as an old fashioned diet brand and so we need to really drive reappraisal, especially amongst younger women. We want to clearly signal a change in our strategy and demonstrate that Special K has positive nutrition that powers women," she said.

Murphy explained that the first part of the campaign aims to be "attention-grabbing" and "thumb-stopping", with a subsequent educational phase offering "practical tools" to help consumers make better nutritional choices.

The latter part will incorporate partnerships with retailers including Asda, Tesco and Argos, wellbeing app MyFitnessPal and loyalty scheme Nectar, helping women to track and measure their daily food and drink in-take.

According to Murphy, the campaign is part of a move away from the idea of dieting - a philosophy encapsulated by Special K’s classic advertising: "The ‘red swimsuit’ is part of our past and the positioning was right for consumers at the time. However, we know that women today want a more positive relationship with food, one that contributes to overall wellness.

"[We appreciate] that the modern woman doesn’t trust a ‘diet brand’ and our campaign focuses on the ways in which Special K powers women every day as part of balanced diet, helping them to live life to its full potential.

"Women know they need to eat well for their health and well-being, but often they’re not sure exactly how nutrition affects them. Special K is designed with nutrients which are essential for women’s well-being. For example, folate contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy and iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. This campaign aims to champion those benefits."

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