Leo Burnett Grabs Gold for Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Entry

What Did You Have For Breakfast Today?

2003 AAAA Awards for Account Planning

Client/Brand: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain
Award Category: Product Brand (more than 2 years)
Submitted By: Pushpa Gopalan/Rick Houghton-Larsen
Agency: Leo Burnett, USA

A simple, honest reminder to “Respect Yourself in the Morning,” stopped people when they were most vulnerable to bad food choices and helped grow the stalled Nutri-Grain business by nearly 30%.

A simple, honest reminder to “Respect Yourself in the Morning,” stopped people in their tracks and got them to rethink their morning habits. Built on the insight that busy people are vulnerable to making bad food choices in the morning, Nutri-Grain’s new campaign playfully illustrates the consequences of making bad food choices in the morning. With a first-ever integrated program, we surrounded people when and where they are most vulnerable to bad morning foods. The campaign grew the stalled Nutri-Grain business by nearly 30%.


Nutri-Grain was the pioneer and leader in the cereal bar category. The first to introduce a tasty, convenient breakfast alternative, it was positioned as the perfect solution to not having time for breakfast. Nutri-Grain slipped into this ‘virtuous cycle’ of success – taste, convenience and nutrition.

Fast forward ten years … Nutri-Grain was now in decline. In 2000, Nutri-Grain sales were down nearly 10%, and the category down -4%. The success cycle no longer seemed to work.

What went wrong? The cereal bar category had been commoditized. Hoping to replicate Nutri-Grain’s success, competitors including Nabisco and Quaker, as well as smaller brands and store brands, jumped into the category. The new entrants failed to differentiate and adopted the same ‘virtuous cycle’ of functional benefits. As a result any consumer emotion around this category dissipated. The category became a blur of interchangeable options, resulting in consumer indifference, and brands fighting for space in a shrinking category.

Quantitative further confirmed that our virtuous cycle had indeed become a vicious one. Nutri-Grain was stuck in an endless loop of the functional. The brand was perceived as a mere tasty convenience, along with the rest of the lot. The strategic platform this brand was established on was no longer compelling or unique.


We had to fundamentally question the very strategy that had propelled the brand into its leadership position in the first place. And almost by virtue of its position, Nutri-Grain held the awesome responsibility of growing the saturated category a feat that would take a mind-changing and habit-changing brand idea. We needed a bold idea befitting a category leader.

The campaign objectives:
* Restore leadership growth to Nutri-Grain
* Boost sales by 7%
* Restore category interest & relevance


Nutri-Grain thought it understood people’s mornings. They were stressed in the morning; they needed breakfast on the go, ergo Nutri-Grain. Well in fact, from the tepid emotional response from our target, it was laid bare that all we had were some not-too-wrong assumptions. We were on well-trodden path of the familiar and needed to infuse our thinking with a more intimate understanding of our consumers’ lives and mornings. We had to dig deeper into our target and their breakfast experience to reframe the challenge and rethink our solution.

An in-depth discovery process led us to the “Morning Truths” that challenged common breakfast conventions. We conducted qualitative research through focus groups and in-home interviews. We haunted “morning venues” like Dunking Donuts, coffee shops, pretzel stands etc. and observed people’s behavior. We WERE the target: busy, on-the-go adults. So the whole brand team maintained diaries for a couple of weeks recording our busy mornings and how we coped with them.

Our business was with “Breakfast Believers”. There are two kinds of people in the world-those who “do breakfast” and those who don’t. Our primary target was those who do-Breakfast Believers. They strongly believe in the age-old saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Eating breakfast meant starting the day right and positive nutrition for the rest of the day. They are “solutioneers”, not victims. They do not see themselves as frenzied and barely able to cope with their mornings. They’re smart, discerning adults with full lives who take an assertive approach to mornings. We knew these were the people that would get us; our brand would be built around this bull’s eye.

Despite best intentions, hectic mornings get in the way. As people in a hurry tend to, our target sometimes makes bad decisions. Breakfast gets reprioritized. Faced with the dilemma between eating right and getting out the door on time, they leave home hungry and have to fend for themselves. Once on the run, they reach for a myriad of seemingly innocent, but bad-for-you impulse alternatives like donuts, bear claws, and bagels.

As Goes The Morning So Goes The Day. They hate it when they start the morning off on the wrong foot. It sets the entire day off-track. One bad choice in the morning makes them feel bad physically and emotionally all day long. The opportunity became clear. If we could get them to choose Nutri-Grain in the morning they wouldn’t suffer the consequences of bad food choices.





An insight with teeth. It bit and hurt, just a little bit. Yes, there are consequences to what you eat. We needed our target to snap out of their morning malaise. It was easy to give into the morning frenzy and make bad food choices. We needed to jolt them out of this behavior and force them to reconsider the choices they made.

The “Respect Yourself in the Morning” campaign did exactly this, bringing our target face to face with their food choices. The tagline wrapped the idea of consequences with a tonality that is direct and honest and treated them with respect and dignity.

The campaign showed that Nutri-Grain knows the real truth about mornings, but takes it all with a grain of salt, a bit of irony. It playfully illustrates that if you’re going to eat a cinnamon bun, donut or croissant for breakfast … you may as well stick it directly on your hips, thighs or love handles.

Sophisticated adults with various “bad” breakfast items attached to them demonstrated the consequences to what you eat in the morning, in a disarmingly humorous way. It showed Nutri-Grain was “better food choice” in the morning.

The real power of the campaign was the fact that the entire contact plan was built around the key insight of “vulnerability”. We had to get to people when they were in this very state of vulnerability. The close partnership with the media team ensured a communication plan that presented Nutri-Grain communication where and when it resonated best. Television and print were targeted to consumers in a self-improvement mindset. We took the campaign theme in-store, for a final reminder at point-of-sale.



Nutri-Grain has had over a year of sustained success since “Respect Yourself” debuted.

Nutri-Grain sales are soaring, up 29.8% significantly exceeding 7% objective.

Source: IRI, FDM w/Wal-Mart, Nutri-Grain Dollar Sales, % Change vs. YA, 2001 through 7/15/01 launch and YTD ’02 ending 9/8/02.

The campaign grew the category, up 14% and sustained to the present.

Source: IRI, 3-Channel Scanner Performance (52- and 4-weeks ending 7/22/01, Post-Campaign results 7/23 to present).

Market share grew +5.8 pts., reversing a nearly 4 pt. decline in pre-launch year.

Source: IRI, FDM w/Wal-Mart, Nutri-Grain Dollar Share of Cereal Bars, Change vs. YA, 2001 through 7/15/01 launch and YTD ’02 ending 9/8/02.


Advertising spend increased year on year since the campaign debut. 2001 spend was $4.6MM. 2002 saw an almost 40% increase to $6.3MM and 2003 spend is planned at $15.4MM. An ROI analysis revealed the extent to which a concerted consumer effort delivered success to the brand.

In 2002, marketing driven profit from TV Advertising nearly tripled from the previous year.

Source: Total Grocery 108 Weeks ending 12/29/02

First ever Out of Home effort was an effective marketing vehicle for the combined 2 year period, generating nearly $2.00 per $1.00 spent.

Source: Total Grocery 108 Weeks ending 12/29/02