Best use of magazine: Winner

Agency/media operation

Agency/media operation

Initiative Media


Kellogg Canada


Kellogg’s Special K


$500,000 – $750,000

Media used




February to October 2003

Media team

Andria Meta, account planner, Initiative Media

Tracy Ibsen, account director, Initiative Media

Sarah Ivey, VP strategic planning, Initiative Media

The background

The Special K brand has developed and maintained strong ties with Canadian women since the 1980s when it was promoting itself as a shape-maintenance aid. In the early ’90s it repositioned itself as a brand that helps women look and feel their best. Between 1997 and 2001, the cereal encouraged women to challenge stereotypes of physical beauty and to feel good on their own terms.

But last year, new market research motivated Special K to reposition its brand once more, this time as an aid to busy women who felt disappointed and overwhelmed by the number of trendy weight-loss programs on the market. And there was born Special K’s ‘Keep it Simple,’ a year-long campaign targeting women looking for viable, simple body-care solutions to incorporate into their hectic lives.

Recent studies reveal that Canadian women, particularly working women and working moms, have become appointment television viewers, suggesting television consumption among this demographic is on the decline. But the love affair that women have with magazines begins in their teens and actually increases as their lives get busier. Part of the reason for this is that magazines continue to address the unique needs of women by providing information at key times during the year.

With the evolution of magazines’ online portals, the Internet has become a tangential forum for women to discuss life issues, cull advice and offer support. Our challenge was to bring the Keep it Simple mantra to life in meaningful and relevant ways through Canadian magazines.

The plan

Initiative forged a year-long partnership with a host of Transcontinental publications to bring the Keep It Simple positioning to life. The plan integrated editorial and advertorial content over the three annual periods that find women most receptive to shape maintenance advice: Resolution Season, Bathing Suit Season, and Back-to-Routine Season.

The participating titles were Canadian Living, Coup de Pouce, Homemakers, Madame, Elle Canada, Elle Quebec, TV Guide, and TV Hebdo.

The advertorial ran alongside a full-year editorial series covering the whole-life makeover of former Olympian and mother of two Kathy Salmon-Farstad. Readers had the opportunity to weigh in on Salmon-Farstad’s progress in four editorial instalments over the course of a year, during which time she was overhauled by a bevy of health and beauty professionals.

In keeping with the Keep It Simple philosophy, the Simple Steps advertorials, which ran in the form of a DPS adjacent to a Special K brand ad, offered readers simple tips for staying fit, instead of idealizing a specific body shape and lecturing women on how to achieve a perfect shape.

They elaborated on key points from the editorial, including quotes from the health and beauty professionals involved in Salmon-Farstad’s makeover, which helped create a seamless transition from editorial to advertorial.

In Resolution Season, the advertorial focused on setting goals and taking one healthy step at a time.

In Bathing Suit Season, the advertorial continued to provide simple steps to remaining healthy, in addition to offering women a Special K journal and advice on the benefits of journaling. An increase in reading during the summer months motivated Special K to create a gatefold bookmark that provided readers with quick and easy tips.

In Back-to-Routine Season, the advertorial inspired women to achieve their goals and maintain a healthy body weight.

The Simple Steps Contest

To heighten the excitement surrounding the campaign, Special K offered a Simple Steps Contest, through which contestants could win their own whole-life makeover. The contest was a part of the advertorial launch, and it enhanced ownership of the editorial piece. The contest ran on the last page of the editorial section.


Leveraging the strength and reach of Transcontinental publications’ online extensions, Webvertorials played a key role in the campaign. Readers could learn more about the Simple Steps Plan and Salmon-Farstad’s progress online, by logging on to and accessing a microsite on mocasofa. Users could access meal plans, nutritional tips, and fitness advice. They could also engage with specialists, read a daily diary, and offer words of encouragement.

Full integration across Transcontinental publications

Advertorials were adjusted to fit each publication’s esthetic and target. All advertorials ran in health and nutrition editorial sections, except for the advertorial in TV Guide that ran in prime positions to increase exposure. Readers were directed to the Simple Steps Web site to access more information. Banners and Skyscrapers also ran.

The results

By aligning itself with prominent women’s titles, Special K created the illusion of editorial sponsorship through the integration of advertorial and editorial content – a connection that heightened the campaign’s credibility. A whopping 11,835 contestants entered the Simple Steps Contest.

The judges rave…

‘The Keep It Simple campaign really leveraged the affinity that [Special K's] target audience has with magazines as a source of information, ideas and entertainment.’

‘Very nice integration with Special K customers’ lives through three seasons. The brand maintained a dialogue and created an expectation that readers would be enriched with the next issue of the [respective] magazine.’

‘High value delivered to readers while reinforcing the Special K brand.’