Last week Kellogg’s launched a new campaign via Pead PR, Mindshare and JWT social for its Special K brand dubbed ‘Own it'. FABIK (Fucking Awesome Bulimics I Know) founder Angela Barnett criticised the brand for its sudden shift in perspective, saying a message about embracing imperfection is "a bit rich" coming from the cereal brand which was once spruiked as a diet food. Kellogg's NZ commercial director Will Brockbank responds:
Special K is a brand with a long history. The reality is brand campaigns reflect the trends of the generations in which they live. I think it’s important that they move with the times just as society does.
They also play a big part in people’s lives and carry influence. Brands therefore have a duty to act responsibly.
Responding to societal shifts should be a part of a brand’s DNA. The adage ‘adapt or die’ is fundamental to the success of any brand.
The current Special K campaign was not dreamt up in some creative director’s mind. It is based on genuine research among the women of New Zealand who say they have moments when they give way to self-doubt about their bodies.
These women told us some pretty distressing stories. Such things as being too scared to leave the dressing room when trying on clothes and letting doubts about their physical appearance affect their career progression.
Body image is a very real concern for them and bearing in mind the number of homes we are welcomed into in New Zealand, we felt a responsibility to encourage women to celebrate their bodies rather than criticising them.
There are many that will say that Special K is partly responsible for creating this negative body image in women’s minds. It is no secret that this brand has in the past been marketed as a diet food.
The important thing is that as times change, this disconnect is recognised and changed.
When it comes to marketing to women, the bar has most certainly moved. Women’s lives have changed dramatically and so too has their relationship with the brands they consume. ‘Strong’ is arguably the new ‘thin’. Messages such as ‘drop a dress size’ are no longer relevant.
Special K’s new ad campaign is rooted in an understanding about a woman’s doubts about her physical appearance as a major cause of doubt and negativity. This has seen the launch of a new brand purpose. Women need to be actively seeing and hearing messages that support them to feel better, not worse about themselves.
The 'Own it' initiative is much more than simply a TV campaign. It has the support of Women’s Health Action, which is an important partnership with an organisation that shares our point of view on women’s body image.
Today people are adopting a more healthy, holistic and sustainable approach to what they eat. Special K has changed too. In 2014 we launched Special K 'Nourish' containing superfoods such as oats, quinoa, pepita seeds and cranberries, and this month we launched Special K gluten free. Both were developed in response to consumer demand.
Let’s celebrate the fact there is a campaign in the market that helps to reassure women that their body image is just fine - rather than dwell on the past.
- Will Brockbank is the commercial director at Kellogg's NZ.
- This piece is a response to some of the criticisms levelled in this story.