advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

FUEL or FAIL—Wheaties *gasps* rebrands.

[UPDATE: Wheaties FUEL Twitter bot/intern let me and a bunch of other people know that this was not a rebranding, rather, an addition to original Wheaties. This probably should be made a little more obvious in the marketing instead of one line in a New York Times’ press release article. All the things I commented on below still make sense in the context of a new product launch, however, it still seems like a line extension here will cannibalize the core product’s audience.]

Aka, the taste of win. Speaking of: Fuel. Win. Evolve. YEAH! Gladiator action taglines unite! I saw this over on BrandflakesForBreakfast, and Darryl’s perfect Man Cereal title notwithstanding, can’t help but wonder if this is a Gatorade “G” in the making. While the site lists the reason they want to “evolve” the brand, there’s something to be said for consistency, of being able to count on a brand over time.

But something else seems to be at work.

It’s as if the marketing directors at major brands are toying with rebranding makeovers more frequently, and specifically, microtargeting or segmenting certain demos out of their broader audience.

Here, it’s obvious they’re going after athletes who identify with a high-performance message. There’s a series of videos put out by Saatchi & Saatchi that feature top athletes discussing the formula with Dr. John Ivy from Wheaties.

But this is what G thou..., sorry, Gatorade thought too. Slumping sales? Change out the box. And before that, Tropicana when it evolved its look to be something more contemporary. At least what they perceived it should be.

Both moves subsequently turning out to be fails.

That’s not saying this won’t work. If it fails, it won’t be because they didn’t spend the money. They’re blowing this out across every possible media channel with the top athletes in their respective sports. Oh, and even a Facebook page.

It’s worth noting though that many brands have certain demos using their products that they might prefer to downplay an association with, let alone deciding to change their core product’s formula as Wheaties has done here.

(Range Rover and Timberland have an urban demo that is definitely missing from their general mass media advertising.)

In this case, the brands will take the bump in sales they get, even if it’s from demos clearly at odds with respectively, the elitist world traveler driving over through the peasants in exotic locales or construction workers.

I know moms used to do the shopping, but walking away from 40% of your market in favor of focusing on the other 60% who they claim are male athletes is what they’re gambling on.

There was this All-American simplicity to having a single athlete on the cover, someone who had earned the right to be there, much like a winning Super Bowl quarterback heading off to Disneyland or little chocolate donut-loving track & field champion.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the new, sleek look—for a video game title. I suppose kids will too. But a brand making revolutionary changes under the guise of evolving the brand needs to consider walking away from the heritage of their formula, name and look all at once.


phillybikeboy said...

Dear Lord, no. That's dreadful. And the kids won't like it either. It reeks of what over-the-hill corporate types think kids will like. Kids don't like Wheaties not because of the box, but because what's inside the box tastes like the box. This changes nothing.

Irene Done said...

Super Bowl winners go to DisneyWorld. Disneyland is for losers. At least, I think that's the lesson from that campaign.

You're absolutely right about the front of the Wheaties box. It's an iconic image for American sports fans, kinda like the Heisman pose. It's timeless. Being pictured on the front of the Wheaties Box is one of the few honors that spanned all sports, included both men and women, and both pros and amateurs (back when Olympic athletes weren't paid and Bruce Jenner's hair color was natural). The message of performance and achievement was already there. I can't believe anyone would mess with it.

Anonymous said...

@ID - I think they use both, but World may have taken point as far as winners go.

@pbb - THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. I think. ;-p

Promotional Products said...

I think they are making a decent effort to extend their brand, not necessarily re-brand or brand overhaul. Like you said, moms don't do all the shopping nowadays, so they need something to grab the attention of the non-mom shoppers. Conversely, I don't think this campaign will last very long, doesn't seem to have the all-American flair of the original Wheaties boxes.

MadamRobot said...

That box is not only ass ugly but it looks like SPARKS made a cereal.