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.


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