Posted by Dale Buss on March 30, 2012 05:04 PM
Larry the Cable Guy is more culturally relevant than Larry the Quaker guy. And that's a problem for Quaker Oats.
Now, the PepsiCo unit has given its old-fashioned mascot, internally nicknamed "Larry," a graphic makeover. Larry hasn't undergone as much transformation as other human mascots over the years — the increasingly hip Betty Crocker comes to mind — so the 130-year-old Quaker Oats figured it was time. Turns out, eating oatmeal is good for the middle-aged figure.
Despite a proliferation of new products and continually freshened marketing over the decade since PepsiCo bought Quaker Oats (which then included the Gatorade brand), Quaker's business — especially that morning staple of the generations, oatmeal itself — has been unimpressive. That has been the case despite high hopes for the "Go Humans Go" campaign of a few years ago and even though more QSR chains are finding healthy demand for morning oatmeal, including McDonald's, Starbucks and Jamba Juice.
Will a more svelte Larry come to the rescue, and help reinforce the brand's nutritional value? Quaker's graphic artists gave him their best shot. They trimmed his hair to make him look lighter and his neck longer. They removed his double chin and smoothed the rolls and plumpness in his face and neck. "We took about five pounds off him," Michael Connors, VP of design for the Hornall Anderson firm, told the Wall Street Journal. And red is prominent in Quaker's new logo to add "a sense of movement."
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, however, that oatmeal is some kind of new-age concoction of a better-for-you era, Quaker wanted to keep Larry looking like a dignified senior citizen who can still be trusted with the nutritional best interests of the American people, and not like some laidback Larry in Birkenstocks. So he still has crow's feet, Connors said, and "a little sparkle in his eye." As long as Larry lays off Quaker's new soft-baked oatmeal cookie line, he should be OK.