Kellogg’s launches PR strike before Fame & Shame Awards

Kellogg’s has launched a pre-emptive PR campaign against a parents’ lobby group before the launch of a damning report on how the cereal maker advertises to children.

The Parents’ Jury Fame & Shame Awards has led to some bad press for Kellogg’s in recent years, with the advertiser being hailed as Australia’s worst offender for pester power and making misleading claims about the healthiness of its products.

This year, Kellogg’s has again received a number of nominations in the ‘Shame’ category – the results are expected next month.

The Parents’ Jury’s campaign manager Corrina Langelaan confirmed that the “usual suspects” were in the running for awards no foods brand wants to win.

Kellogg’s has issued the following statement:

At Kellogg’s, our loyal shoppers are our top priority and we love to hear feedback and listen to opinions. It’s what has helped us make quality breakfast cereals and snacks for over 80 years in Australia.

Listening to our shoppers has also helped us make significant changes to our advertising in the last 10 years as well as improve the nutritional value of our current cereals and create new cereals that answer the desire for more fibre and less salt in the diet.

In the coming weeks a Melbourne based group, the Parents’ Jury, will announce the finalists in a competition to name and shame companies it believes are acting improperly in the marketing of their products in Australia. Parents’ Jury is a unique organisation with a voice on various topics – including a push for integrity in advertising and honesty in communication, which we support. However, several items that the Parents’ Jury have produced about Kellogg’s on their website are incorrect.

We are sure these items have not been deliberately posted to be deceptive but we believe it is vital we defend our proud 80-year heritage from potentially misleading communications.

1. By nominating Coco Pops for a pester power award the Parents’ Jury has used an example of the advertising tagline – Coco Pops and milk make a whole lot of fun – This line has never been used in Australia. We advocate Coco Pops as a treat and it is advertised to parents.

2. By nominating LCMs 4D Choc for a pester power award, the Parents’ Jury is suggesting that this product is aimed at toddlers or young children who “pester” their parents into buying it. That’s not the case and the Parents’ Jury themselves point out that the advertisement is teen focussed. LCMs 4D Choc is targeted at the teenage/high school market in exactly the same way many snack and confectionary products are across the country. Only teens feature in the advertising which appears in adult airtime only.

3. By nominating Nutri-Grain for a smoke and mirrors award the Parents’ Jury has referenced an advert that has not been used in Australia for six months. In June this year we moved to an advert that gives a transparent appraisal of Nutri-Grain as an energy cereal for active consumers.

The Parents’ Jury also describe Nutri-Grain as a cereal for children despite the fact that 60% of the people that buy Nutri-Grain are adults over 18 years old. Again, all advertising appears in adult airtime.

We work hard to provide breakfast cereals and snacks for all wants and needs. From high fibre cereals that can be enjoyed everyday to tasty treats that can be enjoyed during the holidays.

In 2011 alone, Kellogg’s has engaged with over 4,000 Australian mums to discuss our products and our advertising. The views of the parents we have met do not reflect those of the Parents’ Jury.

The company has also released a video to show how has its advertising has changed since the 1990’s.

The Parents’ Jury is backed by groups including Diabetes Australia and the Cancer Council, which last month called for a ban on cartoon characters used to promote sugary and fatty foods, singling out Kellogg’s Coco Pops and Froot Loops as key culprits.

The Parents’ Jury’s Langelaan told Mumbrella:

Members of The Parents’ Jury (who are parents, carers and grandparents) nominate products in each category, help determine final nominations and vote.  It’s a shame the same companies appear so consistently, but parents obviously feel they keep targeting their children.

We know there has been changes to the food marketing landscape over the past few years, especially in regards to industry self-regulation. However, these are limited in scope.  Further, parents tell us they still believe unhealthy food is being marketed to their children, so there is still a need for the awards.

The Parents’ Jury agree parents, as both parents and consumers, are responsible for the healthy diet of their children.  However, the awards also clearly demonstrate parents feel their decisions are being undermined by advertising designed to influence their kids.

We do aim to get media attention for the awards. This is because parents should be able to make public their views on food marketing tactics.  We also want the companies involved to be aware of these consumer views – and we’re happy to meet with them to discuss these – so they can make changes to their products and advertising, in order to help parents make the best and healthiest choices for their children.

Kellogg’s hired its first PR agency in July, which followed the appointment of Gareth Lucy as Kellogg’s PR manager in April.

The Parents’ Jury Fame and Shame Awards has been running since 2005.


  1. Nic Halley
    13 Oct 11
    2:22 pm

  2. Keep fighting the good fight Parents’ Jury, you have my agencies full support

  3. Nicky Bryson
    13 Oct 11
    2:28 pm

  4. Boohoo, parents’ jury. Food companies are undermining your decision making? Ever heard of a little word called ‘no’? My mother bought us naughty cereals like Cocoa Pops and Nutrigrain maybe twice a year. We had zero pester power. She never took us to the supermarket and we knew that whining for the sh*t food we saw on TV ads was a waste of time. Maybe spend less time sitting around on panels bitching about advertising and more time telling your kids the magic ‘no’ word.

  5. John Sharples
    13 Oct 11
    2:31 pm

  6. When are PARENTS going to take responsibility for THEIR actions. It’s nothing to do with the producers – yes, they produce food/snacks/drinks with sugar ….. and we consumers consume them….
    BUT as a parent myself, it’s MY gatekeeping which does or doesn’t allow my children to have these products. And, they do get them – occasionally….. that being the operative word.
    Take responsibility people/parents and stop this blame culture….. it’s YOUR decision what you give your children.
    Parent’s Jury ….. you don’t get my vote. I’ve got a mind of my own thanks!

  7. John Sharples
    13 Oct 11
    2:40 pm

  8. and…. can i recommend this reading too….
    At last someone with a bit of common!!!

  9. jeepers
    13 Oct 11
    3:10 pm

  10. Dear parents of fat kids: just so ‘no’.

    Marketing & advertising to your kids is not the problem – it’s you and your inability or disinclination to play an active role in your kids lives/diets.

  11. Kate
    13 Oct 11
    3:12 pm

  12. Cocopops is clearly marketed at kids – even their website says so! and the new nutri-grain ad fails to mention in its nutrition promotion that it’s something like 33% sugar.

  13. crimmins
    13 Oct 11
    3:21 pm

  14. Dear Parent Jury,

    When I was young I used to sleep in too much.

    It used to drive my Mum mad. Some Saturdays she even had to do the vaccuming just to get me out of bed.

    Anyhow, if advertising of all bedding products was banned (especially you Tontine with your soft comfy pilows), then my poor Mum & i wouldn’t have had to suffer so…

  15. sasha
    13 Oct 11
    4:02 pm

  16. I have to agree with the tenor of the above comments that Parents Jury are spineless, nanny state-loving, responsibility-shirking, hand-wringing weaklings

    just stand up to your children like the rest of us, and as all good parents do!

    it’s ironic that in failing to do so you earmark yourselves as worse parents for your children, not better!

  17. Al
    13 Oct 11
    5:38 pm

  18. Who listens to children anyway? I listen to advertising! It’s never annoying or repetitive, and when I say “no” it desists right away. And when I ask it to be quiet it doesn’t chuck a big tanty.
    It’s funny how everyone here, who obviously works in advertising, spends their working lives pushing and pushing people to buy shit that’s bad for them and they don’t need – then when it comes to the moment of truth (first, not zero, for you trend watchers) – hey, not our fault! Free will!

  19. Cath
    13 Oct 11
    5:48 pm

  20. Pester power is a load of bull. Parents need to be parents and say no

  21. myra
    13 Oct 11
    6:02 pm

  22. Parent says “No”
    Monkey on screen says “yummy yummy fun chocolate treat”
    What do you think has more impact?
    Children do not have the ability to make decisions on what is good and bad food, so advertisers shouldn’t target them

  23. Hyren
    13 Oct 11
    6:44 pm

  24. They don’t advertise to kids anymore, but there is a big cartoon monkey on the box. So I guess if a kid sees it on a supermarket shelf then their grown-up adult parent who’s been to school, capable of running a household, holding a job etc. is completely powerless to resist purchasing, and only the Parent Jury can protect them? Good on you Kellogg’s for being brave enough to stand up to the fun police.

  25. Nic
    13 Oct 11
    6:58 pm

  26. I know it’s my decision what my children eat but I could really do without the pain of pestering. “Mum, there’s a new yoghurt out and it’s EVEN creamier!” my 5 year old recently informed me. Advertising affects children! and companies like Kelloggs have invested a great deal into the pyschology of children and what influences them most. We don’t have a chance in hell if there isn’t someone out there keeping the b**tards honest. Advertising has changed in recent years – because there are parents and independent groups out there saying “NO”.

  27. Claire
    13 Oct 11
    8:12 pm

  28. I’m in full support of The Parent’s Jury – they’re a gutsy, proactive group, fighting against childhood obesity – and they may well have profound effects on the future health of this nation.

    To me this is not about the parent’s reaction to the pestering – its about the pestering itself. I’ve got no problem with saying ‘no’ but I have a huge problem with the incessant requests from my kids in the cereal and muesli bar aisles.

  29. Take some responsibility
    13 Oct 11
    8:26 pm

  30. Maybe we need a Children’s Jury to fight for the rights of kids to be properly parented. All you ever hear these days are parents shirking their responsibility. “my daughter is overweight because of Kelloggs”… “my son can’t read so I’m going to sue his school” …whine whine shirk shirk. By deciding to have a child you’ve taken on the responsibility of ensuring they develop into healthy, educated and socialized adults. It has nothing to do with external influences, wealth or geography. It has to do with you. period.

  31. Rachel
    13 Oct 11
    8:34 pm

  32. Parents may be the gatekeepers, but the advertising is getting the enemy to the gate in a pretty looking horse. I think it’s naive to think that the no from a parent undoes brand imprinting from a big company like Kelloggs, especially when these ads are developmentally targeted. They may not influence your child’s food intake when they are young and you are in charge, but once they have the buying power your kids buy these products. Kelloggs, you have been shonky for a while – take it on the chin, we adults don’t buy your baloney.

  33. As a busy mum....
    13 Oct 11
    9:21 pm

  34. At the end of the day it is the parent who chooses the product not the child. If a drug dealer consistantly pesters a child to use a drug would a parent eventually say yes? Parents need to “harden up” and start being the parent not the childs best friend!!
    N.B I am a mum working in marketing and I dont feel guilty either way!!!!

  35. paul
    13 Oct 11
    10:35 pm

  36. I’m surprised by many of the Kellogg’s-defending comments here.
    I love to see anything being said and done in the battle between corporates and “society” (for want of a better word).
    In the absence of a countervoice to the massive tidal wave of corporate messages (ie, commercial media = 95% of our world), it’s not only refreshing to hear people like the Parents Jury getting heard: it’s damn necessary.
    I’m in France now, where all coke ads and all confectionery ads have to include a little message like: eat at least five fruit/veg snacks a day; or don’t snack between meals; or make sure you get the exercise your body needs.
    It’s the mold-breaking SMOKING CAUSES LUNG CANCER model, which after years of Big Cig opposition managed to tip the balance against advertising-driven addiction-causing nicotine, with all its distressing social consequences.
    in France, too: all alcohol ads need to carry similar warnings. And of course, no TV ads at all for grog.
    Some call it the Nanny State: well, given the hugely persuasive power of media, I am all for Nanny to provide a bit of sensible advice.
    Roll on, Parents Jury! More please…
    And Kelloggs: JUST BEHAVE BETTER! It’s that simple!

  37. Bill Posters
    14 Oct 11
    5:18 am

  38. Gotta love a bunch of advertising types claiming their product doesn’t work. Better not let the clients hear…

    Also: The assertion Nutri-Grain is not for kids is just absurd.

  39. Herald Sun Reader
    14 Oct 11
    7:44 am

  40. Thanks for your opinions, Kellogg’s marketers and media partners.

  41. Paul
    14 Oct 11
    12:50 pm

  42. When are marketers and advertisers going to stand up and take some responsibility for their activities? If it didn’t work, would we be doing it? It just makes no sense – promote like crazy, then blame the parents.

    And the whole “nanny state” argument is incredibly weak. It’s taking on the same role as terms such as “unAustralian” and “politically correct”. When you can’t come up with a strong argument, revert to simplistic, unsusbstantiated cliches.

  43. Kate
    14 Oct 11
    12:52 pm

  44. A lot of you here do not support any regulation of the marketing industry to help reduce our consumption of sugar and fat. (Not surprising given this is a marketing industry site.) However, I would like to know how you think we should tackle Australia’s obesity problem? 25% of Australian teenagers are overweight. Don’t you think, as a society, we should do something about it? We face a major health problem in 20 years if we don’t take action to reverse the trend.

    The Baby Carrots campaign is a fascinating strategy. They are marketing carrots like junk food.

  45. Slightly annoyed
    14 Oct 11
    4:22 pm

  46. As far as I can work out, there are two arguments used, in isolation or combination:
    1. Advertising doesn’t work, so there is no problem
    2. It is up to parents to gate-keep all commercial interests from their children

    Well, guess what, advertising does work and parents do have a role – but lets give parents a fighting chance.

    Raise your hand if you went to school when the maths curriculum carried a McDonald’s logo. I thought not. Sounds like a Hobson’s choice, between education and obesity…

    PS – I’m not sure the drug analogy really works – how many parents have EVER bought drugs for their child. Incidentally, children still get addicted to drugs despite their despotic parents keeping children in the cupboard and saying no to everything.

  47. Katrina
    14 Oct 11
    5:00 pm

  48. Teach your kids the word “NO” or turn off the TV! If a toddler understands chocolate, who gave it to them in the first place?
    My son was only allowed to drink water growing up. He went to parties knowing he was allowed to have a treat but ALWAYS said no to soft drinks and fruit juices that were offered to him. Parents need to take responsibility, and stop looking to others to blame!
    I am more worried about frozen vegetables that are laced with pesticides and human excrement. At least with Kellogg, you can trust the food you put into your mouth!

  49. Cereal Eater (serial?)
    14 Oct 11
    7:59 pm

  50. Wouldn’t it be great to have a cartoon Monkey to promote All Bran. Or perhaps a cartoon Tiger to promote Special K…?

    Parents should be responsible, however the power of marketing influences the kids. (unless the critics in this thread do not believe marketing works?)

    Fruit, veg, healthy snacks; let’s associate cartoons with nice stuff and clean up our act.

    At an ad awards night: “And the winner of best advert, which resulted in a million kids becoming obese is…”

    Buck the trend guys. Start backing the good and start moulding our society for the best. As an industry we can make a difference.