Kellog's Special K Cereal Ads: 1959 vs 2013



The Special K ad from 1959 on the left is quite cheerful, isn't it? A happy father, smiling moms, a cute baby and healthy benefits are being promoted without any mention of it being a tool for weight loss. Wholesome stuff.

I find the ad on the right from the 2013 Ladies Home Journal to be rather...gross. I understand the concept that their marketing department wants to get across without making an outright claim: Special K will kill your desire to eat a jelly doughnut and sweets in general. But "the protein effect" next to what appears to be a bloody, and not jelly, donut makes me wonder. Are they trying to subliminally imply that monthly cravings will be conquered?? Even if they are, I now associate their cereal with an unpleasant image. I find the 1950s ad to be far more effective at making Special K seem appetizing!

What's your take on these ads?

Comments

  1. I agree! The 1950s ad is so sweet and cheerful but still hits all the right marks when it comes to health benefits. The 2013 ad does come across as unpleasant and as if we should simply eat Special K to combat our cravings.
    I know which one I would choose!

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    1. It's as if processed food now has to be marketed as doing tricks instead of its own merits.

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  2. Honestly the modern ad makes me want a jelly doughnut! Ha ha. But it's not really funny because it plays the "bad food vs. good food" game. The picture itself is almost implying you can eat crap if you eat a good breakfast. The vintage ad is sweet. It makes me want to eat right. The ad is so full of life. Much more simple than the whole diet sell.

    Sarah H.

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    1. Sarah, perhaps they are hoping the sweet will be one of their "Pasty Crisps."

      Tempting treats are everywhere, and when you’re trying to be good those tempting treats can be BAD. Good thing you’ve got new Special K® Strawberry Pastry Crisps. Two of these little strawberry-flavored Pastry Crisp Bars are 100 calories. That’s two crispy bars, drizzled in yummy vanilla icing, for 100 fruity calories. We think you’ll agree—Special K® Strawberry Pastry Crisps are light and just right!

      Ingredients:

      ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, FRUCTOSE, GLYCEROL, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN, PALM, AND PALM KERNEL OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), DEXTROSE, MALTODEXTRIN, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF MODIFIED CORN STARCH, NONFAT DRY MILK, APPLE POWDER, STRAWBERRY PUREE CONCENTRATE, REDUCED MINERAL WHEY, INVERT SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, SOY LECITHIN, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE), SALT, DATEM , CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, CELLULOSE GUM, SODIUM CITRATE, MALIC ACID, COLOR ADDED, SODIUM ALGINATE, CARAMEL COLOR, XANTHAN GUM, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, RED #40, VANILLA EXTRACT, BHT FOR FRESHNESS.

      I'd rather have fresh strawberries.

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  3. Me too! I've actually found some great strawberries last week. I prefer to buy in season but as a treat it's nice to break up the monotony of citrus, apples, and bananas.

    I forgot to mention- the new Special K tv ad. The one with women's toes stepping on a scale and then a woman smiling with glee on the scale? That one is pretty good and while it keeps Special K in the diet category I find it more encouraging and I cheer for the fictional women on the Special K diet. I like how the focus is feeling great (due to the number on the scale, unfortunately not for being part of a happy family as in the 50's ad) and not so much on eating everything made by Kelloggs. But the print ad I find unappealing and it doesn't make me want to go buy the cereal.

    Have a great day!

    Sarah H.

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    1. I buy frozen berries in the winter and add them to pancakes and smoothies I make at home- yum!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the ads, Sarah!

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  4. Hello Averyl!
    The jelly doughnut looks disgusting, the whole advert is unappealing on all levels even the Special K!
    I love the family ad, its honest and refreshing..

    Michelle

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    1. If I was with the Special K marketing department I would bring back the old ads! When Tide brought back their old packaging with new retro designs it seemed to be successful and well received.

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  5. I just came across this ad in BHG, march 2013, and then found your post! I agree the 1950's ad is better- and I am so grossed out by this bleeding donut ad. Perhaps because it is that time of the month for me, but my first thoughts were just wrong. The protein effect tag line placement isn't helping either. Thanks for posting the better, old school ad!

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    1. ha, I totally agree and you're welcome!

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  6. Another great post! Why is it that ads today are so negative, shocking and even vulgar? There seems to be a lack of respect for the consumer on the part of all these companies and large corporations. I think we need to demand better products, better advertising...even if that means we have to write to these companies ourselves or even boycott them entirely. If they can't respect their audience why should we applaud by making them even richer?

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    1. Thanks! I feel your indignation and annoyance! I pretty much do a personal boycott by not purchasing from the companies with highly processed foods and offensive (to me) ads. If I had the time I'd dedicate a blog to bad modern day advertising. Maybe you can start one? :)

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    2. Thanks for reply and a brilliant idea, I just may have to do that. I look forward to the book by the way! Thanks for the blog and the insight!

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