What on earth? I was jolted this morning when I read that the venerable Kellogg’s has blundered badly with a false nutritional claim for its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. This story has the potential to generate the same firestorm as the recent Twitter moms’ protest against Motrin, but instead of just an insulting ad concept, Kellogg’s has launched a multimedia marketing push that is based on bad data.
Apparently, Kellogg’s marketing? public relations? advertising? people identified that mothers today are concerned about attention issues affecting their childrens’ performance at school. Check. (I still believe that my 17 year-old has some undiagnosed ADD thingy…I will research the subject until the day I die.) Where it seems to have gone horribly wrong is that they conducted some sort of quasi-scientific research and “proved” that a breakfast including Frosted Mini-Wheats would improve a child’s attention in school by some 20%.
In fact, this “improvement”, when checked by the FTC, was only 11%. AND THE BASIS OF COMPARISON WAS WITH CHILDREN THAT ATE NO BREAKFAST! Well, duh! Virtually any other cereal could make the same claim versus an empty stomach.
Kellogg’s has a whole website for Frosted Mini-Wheats, with a “View” type set-up with streaming video of sincere, coffee-drinking women just bursting to discuss children’s attention problems, and lots of links for more information.
I actually thought that when I went to the website, there would be some mention about the issue–or that it would have been taken down. But no. Why wasn’t Kellogg’s more prepared for this? Surely they knew that the ad was being reviewed by the FTC. The company has been “unavailable for comment”. Kellogg’s is a major, reputable brand that has spent decades building trust. They need to get in front of this as quickly as possible, and also investigate why and how a major marketing effort was built on a specious claim.