Tony the Tiger, Snap, Crackle and Pop, Lucky the Leprechaun, and Toucan Sam are all icons of my childhood. Saturday mornings consisted of heaping my cereal bowl full of my favorite cereal and plopping down in front of the television set for hours of cartoon-watching.
And although Kellog brand cereals have been around my entire life, I dont' iften sit back and think about where it all started.
I learned that Kellogg Co. was established in 1906 by William Keith Kellogg, who was the younger brother of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Battle Creek Sanitorium in Battle Creek, Mich. Dr. Kellogg had created wheat flakes in 1894 as a nutritious food for his health spa clients. The company was incorporated in 1925.
According to adage.com, Kellogg spent $90,000 on advertising in 1906, including $4,000 for a page ad in the July issue of the Ladies' Home Journal, pioneering the use of color in advertising. The ad included a coupon for customers to take to their grocers to sign and return requesting Corn Flakes. Consumers who successfully enlisted new stores received "a season's worth" of Corn Flakes for free.
Sales in 1906 soared from 33 to 2,900 cases a day. In the first six months of 1907, Kellogg's advertising budget reached $300,000. After the stock market crash of 1929, when many other advertisers were cutting back, Kellogg doubled its ad budget.
By 1940, Kellogg's total advertising expenditures had passed $2.3 million, with approximately $1.5 million in print and $860,000 in network radio, including children's shows such as "Don Winslow of the Navy," "Buck Rogers" and "Superman."
Mr. Kellogg was an innovator in packaging and consumer and trade promotion as well. He introduced the first wax-paper liner to preserve product freshness and the first "prize" in 1910, a "flip book" titled "The Jungleland Funny Moving Pictures Book." Among his many trade promotions, he provided grocers with free samples of Corn Flakes to give away to customers who winked at them.
Kellogg used scores of other slogans for its flagship brand over the years. Among the more notable were: "What breakfast was meant to be," "Wins its favor through its flavor," "The original and best," "The best way to start the day," "The nation's breakfast" and "It's gonna be a great day."
Mr. Kellogg commissioned the first advertising "character" for Corn Flakes in 1907: a woman holding a shock of corn dubbed "The Sweetheart of the Corn." The use of cartoon characters became a hallmark of Kellogg's advertising. Snap, Crackle and Pop, introduced in 1941 for Rice Krispies, were the first and continue to be the longest-lasting cartoon spokescharacters in Kellogg ad history.
Most of Kellogg's characters were created by Chicago-based Burnett, including Tony the Tiger for Frosted Flakes (1952), Sugar Pops Pete (1958), Milton the Toaster for Pop Tarts (1971), Toucan Sam for Froot Loops (1963), Dig'Em the Frog for Sugar Smacks (1972) and Cornelius the Rooster for Corn Flakes (1957).
Kellogg has also been a major broadcast advertiser, using spot and network TV since the early 1950s, sponsoring Jimmy Durante's "All Star Review" and "Howdy Doody," its first national buy. In the late 1950s, Kellogg bought, financed and produced one of the earliest syndicated TV programs, "Wild Bill Hickock." Other sponsorships during TV's golden age included "Superman," "Dennis the Menace," "Captain Kangaroo" and "The Beverly Hillbillies.
Advertising strategy at the start of the 21st century positioned Kellogg brands as adjuncts to a healthy lifestyle, a return to the company's wellness origins of a century earlier. An umbrella campaign was launched in 1999 with the tagline: "With Kellogg's, a healthier life is within your reach. So tomorrow morning, help yourself." Meanwhile, the company in 2000 expanded into cookies and snacks with the purchase of Keebler Foods for $3.6 billion.