Q&A: For Quaker, It's All About the Oat


Quaker Oats has had its hands full lately. The brand kicked off a breakfast promotion in New York’s Times Square earlier this week. And next Monday, it will break an integrated campaign from its new lead agency—Goodby, Silverstein & Partners—touting the wholesome properties of the oat. Called “Go Humans Go,” the effort marks the first time the PepsiCo division has linked its entire whole grain oats brand portfolio under one umbrella campaign. In a recent interview with Brandweek, chief marketing officer Annie Young-Scrivner discussed how the brand is stepping up its cause marketing efforts, how consumers are refueling their mornings with Quaker Oats and how the oat is charging ahead in tough times.

Brandweek: Why all this buzz around the oat? Why is this a good time to be coming out with this marketing message? Is it about oat as food for the soul in tough times?
Annie Young-Scrivner: We really think of it as not just a grain. It’s a super grain. It lifts you physically and emotionally and gives you the inner power to do amazing things for yourself, but also for others. That’s why we’ve launched this campaign, “Go Humans Go.”

BW: “Go Humans Go.” Very catchy. How’d you come up with it?
AS: It’s a rallying cry that really leverages all of us, the human energy, to do more. We’ve partnered with [hunger awareness organization] Share for Strength, where, every time a consumer goes to and enters a UPC code, we’ll donate 10 products from across our whole product line to families in need [up to one million servings].

BW: You’ve certainly used a lot of outdoor, teaser ads to generate buzz for the brand (bus ads feature the campaign’s mascot, Jetpack Man, for instance). Is ambient advertising a huge focus for the brand at moment?
AS: Traditionally, we leverage more print and TV. What we really want to do is surround our consumer, to be where he/she is at. We’re leveraging other elements as well, including outdoor, public relations, social media, digital marketing and also in-store. Consumers today are so diverse on how they can be reached so it’s really about surrounding them where they’re at.

BW: This is the first instance of new work from your agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners . . . What made you pick them as your new lead agency? (Element 79, Chicago, previously handled the account.)
AS: In combining the seven campaigns into one, they were the agency that had the best ideas. In the past, we’d have one campaign for cereal, one for Chewy granola bars and another for Instant and Standard Quaker Oats oatmeal. What we’ve done is combine all of that into one so that we’re really leveraging our voice with the consumer and talking about the super grain nutrients of Quaker Oats.

BW: Quaker Oats spent $65 million on U.S. measured media in 2007, and $50 million last year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Are you spending more or less on advertising this year?
AS: We continue to invest in building the Quaker brand and that’s all I can say about that.

BW: Is Quaker Oats introducing new packaging on its whole grain oat products in conjunction with this campaign?
AS: We completed our most recent packaging change in the second half of 2008, which was to put the Quaker Man very visibly across all of our products, and it really resonated with the consumer. The Quaker Man has great household penetration, 100 percent, actually, and it is one of the best known household icons. But consumers didn’t realize, for instance, that Life Cereal was part of the Quaker portfolio.

What this campaign will do for us is after each of our commercials, even with the print ads, it will highlight the portfolio of items made from Quaker Oats and I think it’s really going to resonate with consumers. We have a lot of people who are really loyal to our bars. Now they’ll say, ‘I can buy your cereal as well. I didn’t know you had cereal.’ And it will do well with our retailers, as we can increase our basket size for them.

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