5 Secrets To Kellogg’s Special ROI

8 09 2008

Mark Baynes, CMO of Kellogg’s, recently made a pretty stunning announcement:

“analysis of the Special K initiative of the last 18 months showed digital media exceeding that of broadcast ROI”… “by a factor of well over two.”

Mr. Baynes offered no details about how ROI was calculated, which is too bad. Getting to a concrete ROI in CPG in any medium is extremely difficult. (Believe me on this: I can show you the scars). I’m very curious how they got to more than 2x ROI vs. TV and hope more is revealed soon.

Nor did he say much about what they did right online. I have no inside information about what worked and what didn’t. But that won’t stop me from offering some educated guesses:

Secret 1: Give The Brand A Digital Mission

Special K is not just a bowl of crunchy cereal and a few line extensions. It’s a diet partner with an explicit, concrete promise: drop up to a jean size in 2 weeks. That’s compelling stuff, and it gives its digital efforts a digital reason for being. Few people are interested in going to a website that lays out product features. Many people are interested in visiting a website that can keep them from looking ginormous in their jeans.

Secret 2: Understand “View Vs. Do”

As I’ve said before, TV is a “view” medium: “I’ve got some time to kill, let’s see what’s on”. The Internet is a “do” medium: “I’ll check the scores on ESPN, return some emails, and post to my blog.”

Instead of a list of features and benefits, Kellogg’s Special K website offers customized plans for consumers, sign-ups for a Yahoo e-mail group, and tips from a trainer and nutritionist. They don’t just say “view our promises about your diet”. They help consumers do something that matters.

Secret 3: Integrate Brand and Search

Kellogg’s deal with Yahoo is genius: a search turns up a paid search ad that works more like a brand ad. It’s full of “what can we do to help you?” which is exactly what’s needed in this medium. Did they give up something by not going with Google, considering how dominant Google is in search? Yes. But, remember that if you do a search for “Special K” on Google you will get more results about ketamine than about the brand.

Secret 4: Don’t Get Suckered Into Either/Or Thinking

Kellogg’s ROI online is heavily influenced by their TV advertising. Kellogg’s ROI on TV is almost certainly influenced by what they do online. The guys in Battle Creek aren’t arguing over whether to do TV or online. They’re doing both.

Point two of this: you could argue that some of this is more PR than advertising, or more promotion than PR, or more display than search. But, while you were arguing your ROI would not improve by one tenth of one percent. The lesson? Focus on what works, not what tactical bucket the idea belongs in.

Secret 5: Test, Learn and Improve

Kellogg’s has been working digitally for years. Their ROI improvement didn’t come overnight. Neither will yours, or mine.




2 responses

9 09 2008
Paul M. Banas

I also wish the Kellogg’s CMO had included how they got to the ROI numbers, since I do believe in the way they are going to market.

Not to take the shine off their achievements, but if they are comparing a wide reach TV buy to a hyper-targeted search campaign, I think the ROI of the digital effort has to come out on top just about every time.

TV will probably reach more consumers and generate more total volume, but the cost needed to reach those consumers is astronomical and rising.

On the other hand, their special relationship with Yahoo! may reach a smaller consumer base, but that base is better targeted and the working media cost is a fraction of what TV costs to reach their viewer base. And when we throw in the non-working costs, digital starts looking better and better.

9 09 2008

Thanks for the comment, Paul. I agree the ROI of digital (especially search) should handily beat TV almost every time. IMHO, you still can’t beat TV for generating fast, broad-based awareness. But, executed properly, digital can activate that awareness faster and better than any medium in history.

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