Special K gets a makeover

The brand sheds the red dress for a new approach.

special kBy Harmeet Singh and Tanya Kostiw 

Special K, a brand typically associated with weight management, is undergoing a makeover of its own, encouraging women to own the good – and the not so good – about themselves.

The Kellogg brand is repositioning itself with a mantra around getting women to shed their doubt and set their sights on what they can realistically change, rather than worrying about what they can’t. A new, multi-channel campaign from Leo Burnett Toronto is supporting what’s dubbed the first step in the brand’s revamp.

It taps into the insight that nearly all Canadian women experience an “I hate my body moment” daily, which can result in them focusing on the negative instead of the positive and working on things they can indeed change.

“At Special K, we’re embracing a new attitude and we really want to transform our brand to be credible and relevant with women of today,” says Natasha Millar, senior director of cereals and beverages at Kellogg Canada. “We knew that we needed to evolve to keep up with our consumers, who we call the ‘new feminine’.”

Specifically, that’s women over 18 who are less motivated by declining numbers on the scale and more driven by accomplishing challenges, she says. That’s sparked a shift away from the brand’s long-time “red dress” spots to the new “Own It” platform.

The new campaign, which launched last night, features an anthem spot for TV and online, print and online ads in black and white with a more disruptive and raw feel (and featuring photographs of women that haven’t been retouched), in-store and social media, including new Instagram carousel ads. Content features real women who deal with doubt, while next year will see a new visual identity, products and promotions for Special K.

This is also Special K’s first major foray into social media, part of its strategy to connect more with its “new feminine” target. “These are modern and relevant ways that women are communicating today and we wanted to talk with them in the channels that are most salient,” Millar says.

Special K is the latest in a list of brands that have been encouraging positive body image and eschewing using models to target real women, from Cheerios to Dove to the newly launched, Reitmans-owned Hyba brand.

The brand has been encouraged by what it’s seen in the market, but its street casting approach to “#OwnIt” (using mostly real women over actors or models), helps differentiate it as truly authentic, Millar says. The campaign itself also reflects the real things those women said about what they love (and dislike) about their appearance.

Along with Leo, the brand worked with Starcom MediaVest Group on media, Strategic Objectives for social PR and VML on web development and email marketing.