Social Media a Cereal Killer?

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Kevin Brennan, Kellogg’s UK marketing director, isn’t sure that consumers want to see FMCG companies in social media. And he wasn’t ROFL when he said it.

Despite marketing brands in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods space, Brennan is taking it slower when it comes to the fast-paced, social Web — at least until he hears a smart strategy.

Borrowing a line from Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group, Brennan recently descibed social media and digital marketing as an experience akin to “walking into a restaurant and meeting five different waiters with five different menus.”[more]

Kellogg’s UK marketing chief faults ad agencies for what he sees as a lack of creative ingenuity and digital guidance as FMCG brands try to navigate the social Web. Brennan admitted he doesn’t “understand half the problems well enough that we have to deal with.”

It’s not that he doesn’t think they’re important, as he added that the digital revolution “is probably as profound as the advent of television, but way more complex.”

He could look to his colleagues across the pond. Brandweek‘s 2010 “Superbrands” report heralded the success of Kellogg’s US relaunch of Special K last year, which brought it to No. 4 ranking in the $6.6 billion ready-to-eat cereal category – a 12.9% rise to $249.9. The secret – adding fiber and pitching to weight-conscious consumers via social media.

A “Be Victorious” morning news television campaign, and a website partnership with MSN.com and its Facebook page offered healthy eating-tips and a Special K Challenge of substituting two meals daily with the cereal.

Brennan persisted in saying he sees “a lot of disintegration” in the digital ad landscape for FMCG’s, and a lack of digital- and social media-savvy talent, perhaps due to insufficient investment. “I know for agencies that’s difficult because that’s not necessarily where the money is. But agencies should invest.”

Refreshing to hear a marketing honcho voice his confusion over social media — even as one of his company’s core brands pops in the digital and social arena.

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