Visual Semiotics: Kellogg's


Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes sales were declining. Prior research indicated that commercials needed to show that eating Frosted Flakes provided the energy to achieve; however, the resulting campaign was ineffective in reviving sales, especially with children under age 13.

Using visual semiotics, responses to the coded image sort identified that children were afraid of the new “energetic” Tony depicted in the ads. Images chosen in response to him pointed to unconscious associations of Tony with destruction, threat, and lack of control.

The insight was that Tony shouldn’t be the one achieving—it should be the children. The new TV spot was the first to show someone other than Tony eating Frosted Flakes, placing Tony in a supportive role and empowering children to do their best. In response, the downward sales trend was reversed, leading to sales and brand growth.

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