Keeping It Simple

The Story of repositioning Kellogg’s Special K Cereal


Kellogg’s and its advertising agency, Leo Burnett, made the difficult decision to reposition the Special K brand as a “diet cereal”. Their goal was to target the brand specifically to women. Ignoring 50 percent of the market (males) is a gutsy thing to do. But once they simplified from broad to niche, everything became easier for both the brand and its consumers.

The Red “K” on the box was restyled in the shape of a woman’s leg to present a more feminine image. Other elements of Special K’s marketing mix were adjusted accordingly. This change even included the charities with which Kellogg’s chose to associate the brand’ e.g. the Susan Komen Foundation for the fight against breast cancer (pink ribbon).

Kellogg’s introduced its Special K Challenge Diet Plan as well. This plan suggests replacing a regular daily meal with two bowls of Special K, and in only two weeks you drop a jean size. On the box of cereal is a yellow tape with the text “Drop a jean size in two weeks”. This creates a tangible vision in the consumer’s mind. Who wouldn’t want to be wearing slimmer jeans in two weeks?

Five years after introducing the Special K challenge Diet Plan, Special K grew from the brink of product cancelation to the company’s No.1 Brand: quite a feat in a company whose marketing spending eclipse 1$ billion annually. In 2009, branding specialists Landor Associates listed Special K as one of 10 breakaway brands from 2005-2008. Kellogg’s discovered a multitude of success when it simplified and repositioned Special K as a diet cereal.