America’s breakfast habits are in flux, as they’ve gone from savory to breakfast cereal and, as The New York Times describes, “Now toggles between health food and sweet indulgence.” But Kellogg’s has kept changing with the times, and grown its products and experiences alongside its customers throughout the brand’s history.
Dr. John Kellogg, renowned surgeon and health expert, began dispensing bran biscuits with the Kellogg Co. name on them in the late 1800s. In 1889, a kitchen mishap yielded cereal flakes—a near perfect consumer product—easy to make, sell and reap a profit.
In one year, Kellogg sold 1 million cases of cereal, and by 1911, 107 brands of corn flakes were being manufactured. But it was the arrival of television in the 1950s that inspired ad maven Leo Burnett to create programs to entertain children and sell Kellogg products, and the first cereal pitchman—Tony the Tiger—was born.
Kellogg Co. is the world’s leading cereal company; second-largest producer of cookies, crackers, and snacks; and a leading North American frozen foods company with 2015 sales of $13.5 billion. Its brands include Kellogg’s, Keebler, Special K, Pringles, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Cheez-It, Eggo, Mini-Wheats and more.
In June 2016, the 110-year-old company opened Kellogg’s NYC, a branded café in New York City’s Times Square, selling breakfast cereal as a premium brand. It’s a five-year commitment and “the new home of cereal innovation and delicious experimentation” for the company. Food aficionados and partners include Anthony Rudolf and Sandra Di Capua of Journee, and award-winning chef Christina Tosi.
The café offers dine-in or take-out options and future plans include catering. Each dish comes with a small treat such as a newspaper, a ring, or if you’re extra lucky, tickets to Broadway hit Hamilton.
“This is story-doing versus storytelling,” Andrew Shripka, associate director of brand marketing for Kellogg, told the The Wall Street Journal. “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is so much more powerful.”
At the recent Breakthrough Brands Summit, Noel Geoffroy, SVP Morning Foods, Kellogg Co., said, “Our company is 110 years old. So as a digital marketer, the challenge is how to keep the heritage relevant and contemporary?
“Our TV usage for advertising is down, print is down, and digital is up. Events are back as marketing vehicles—like our Times Square activation. Stores are permanent but events give the experience to consumers. Digital is about being there.
“Teens and young adults have brand affinity and connect with Pop Tarts, now 40 years old. But for their moms that happens in-store. Consumers know and trust Kellogg’s, but are more attached to the brands—Pop Tarts, Corn Flakes, Tony the Tiger.”
Kellogg’s feels it’s the right time to disrupt its business and reposition its brands for growth. As its NYC eatery’s Instagram feed puts it, “After 110 years of breakfast goodness, we’re reimagining a bowl of cereal in the city where no dream is too big.”