Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kellogg and bad PR

Life has been very full the last couple of months, so writing here has been sparse. It's time to catch up, and look forward to expanded coverage coming in 2017! (Reminder: Keep up to date with cereal news and fun on our Facebook page @BreakfastBowl).

The cereal industry has taken some big hits in the past few years with declining sales amid frustrated efforts to turn things around. The big companies, like Kellogg, have been particularly impacted by these shifts, and cannot afford for anything else to further erode their businesses.

One can only imagine then the hand-wringing among executives in Battle Creek in the past month or so when not one, but two, stories stormed the media and threatened to take everyone's eyes off of Kellogg's cereal business, including the introduction of new products, such as new Cinnamon Frosted Flakes.

First, was an Associated Press report that Kellogg misled consumers by not making it clear that its "independent experts" who make up its Breakfast Council are, in fact, paid by the company. Then, only days later, Bloomberg reported that Kellogg pulled ads from the right-wing news site, Breitbart. This latter story could be seen as a positive for those with left political leanings, and a negative for Breitbart supporters (encouraged on by a boycott), but the point in all this is that ultimately Kellogg does not need any of this publicity.

At a time when the cereal industry is struggling, companies are going to have to be extra vigilant to ensure that their actions are carefully thought out, and consistently applied. There can be no room for bad PR to distract consumers. People today are watching closely, and want the brands they buy to be of the highest integrity and representative of their values. Getting media attention for the wrong reasons does nothing to help these perceptions.