Oatmeal Brand Pays to Become ‘Choice of a New Generation’

Mar 16, 2012

This is serious stuff, but I have to admit getting a giggle out of it. So, let me break it down as succinctly as possible.

  1. Quaker Oats, a division of Pepsico, is the brand leader in the oatmeal category.
  2. MOM Brands, formerly Malt-O-Meal, has rolled out a line of new instant oatmeal under the Better Oats brand. By various accounts, the line has somewhere between and one and four percent share of the category.
  3. Better Oats, in a search of slogans to raise its profile (and sales) in the marketplace, found that it could purchase “Choice of a New Generation,” a message made famous by Pepsi back in the 1980s.
  4. Pepsico let its rights to the slogan lapse in 2006 and didn’t take legal steps to prevent MOM Brands from using it when it made a bid in 2009.
  5. A number of articles have been written about the irony in a rival to a Pepsico business using a Pepsi slogan to compete against it.

As a Pioneer Press article pointed out, Better Oats is making much different use of the slogan than Pepsi did back in the 1980s. Where Pepsi ran spots starring Michael Jackson singing and doing the moon walk, the Better Oats commercials include a man in pajamas doing his own “song-and-dance tribute” to the oatmeal line.

[Image: Better Oats spot]

“We’re launching this campaign without a fancy ad agency, celebrity spokesperson, or big advertising budget. We’re crowdsourcing video content and are placing it online and on YouTube. We’re getting word-of-mouth exposure through social media,” said Linda Fisher, corporate communications manager for MOM Brands, in a press release. “Our Better Oats brand is bringing new, younger and more affluent consumers to the instant oatmeal category, and that trend, coupled with our non-traditional campaign, is why ‘Choice of a New Generation’ tagline is such a good fit.”

Discussion Questions: What do you think of MOM Brands’ use of the “New Generation” slogan? Have you ever heard of something similar happening in consumer marketing? What should retailers be doing to build on the buzz created around Better Oats?

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13 Comments on "Oatmeal Brand Pays to Become ‘Choice of a New Generation’"

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Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
5 years 7 months ago

I don’t think “new generation” is a good slogan for instant oatmeal. I understand they want to get away from the traditional stodgy advertising used for oatmeal (think Wilford Brimley), but it is hard to make mushed-up, heated oats a “sexy” product.

Ryan Mathews

Since Better Oats has something like a one to four share of a category Quaker practically defines, “the buzz” is among ad-watchers and mediaistas, not among consumers. So, if I were PepsiCo, I wouldn’t worry too much and, if I were a retailer, I wouldn’t do anything at all.

As far as the usage goes, I’m sure somebody at MOM Brands thought it was a major coup but it seems kind of dumb to me. If they were trying to resurrect a nostalgia campaign why didn’t they make a play on Malt-O-Meal’s old ads? And, if they were trying to “Stick it to The Man,” in this case PepsiCo, they failed miserably.

All MOM proved was that sometimes imitation really isn’t the most sincere form of flattery … or the most creative approach to advertising.

Bob Phibbs

The most pervasive small thinking is using the words simple or better in their advertising. How many pizza boxes are printed with Simply Better Pizza or coffeehouses with Better Coffee? Better Service. Add the odd juxtaposition of Choice of a New Generation and you have an ad alright: “Why You Need An Agency.”

Ian Percy

My only thing is that if you’re going to eat oatmeal…eat REAL oatmeal. Some of this instant stuff is like eating adult Pablum. For we in the older generation who eat oatmeal — and we all should — mix in a tablespoon of organic non-hydrogenated coconut oil. There is no taste, it adds to the smoothness and, most importantly, it directly feeds the brain. I’m a Quaker man myself and am off to get some now.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
5 years 7 months ago

Since MOM Brands is free to do as it pleases, it has chosen to imitate another. Is that a breakthrough???

The “New Generation” may have financial resources and “know its oats” but it doesn’t seem to realize that it’s buzzing to old music. And …

MOM, don’t you know that “buzz-es” do occur, but they are just temporary marketing music … and that the band plays on?

Mark Burr
5 years 7 months ago

I doubt if either the retailer or the consumer actually realize that the slogan even belonged once to PepsiCo. I don’t think there is much buzz worth reacting to or building on by the retailer. This isn’t like Toyota suddenly using “Have you driven a Toyota lately?” or Pepsi using “It’s the Real Thing.”

The commercial is less than compelling. It’s more of a blah than a buzz. It’s certainly not innovative or a coup of any notable value.

Ben Ball

I have no idea how this will work for MOM and their Better Oats brand.

I do know that this is the sort of thing that makes brows furrow, molars grind and ears go red in Purchase!

What a hoot!

I have to agree with Ryan on the probably effectiveness and impact of this move for MOM though.

Steve Montgomery

What MOM brands got out of this was media buzz that was worth far more than the $150,000 they spent on the campaign. It may have raised consumer awareness of their brand/products a little but I doubt it will have any impact on their, or Quaker’s sales.

George Anderson

This may be a bigger deal than some here realize. If you’re a category leader and find that you’ve lost one to four percent of category market share in about a year’s time, that’s significant for the brand. For the retailer, if the new sales have in any way added incremental dollars or profits to the category (a question not answered here) than this also huge, particularly in a slow to no growth environment.

Ken Lonyai

Ryan Mathews summed it up best.

It’s probably a rare case that a brand would ever benefit from someone else’s slogan unless their intent is to confuse consumers into mistakenly buying their product. Unless MOM is pushing cola flavored oatmeal… so what about the slogan.

Add to that, they are touching a legendary campaign that for the generation that remembers Pepsi’s use of the slogan, might be put off.

Carlos Arambula

I think it’s lazy.

MOM Brands has a good product with a good story. The product and brands have plenty of attributes and benefits to design a compelling position for it. Instead, they have relied on a gimmick and sophomoric approach.

Even worse, if you will use a gimmick, do it right. The production values are awful — as one would expect from crowd-sourced material — and they will denigrate the brand.

Aside from industry folks, I can’t imagine the consumer tying the slogan to Pepsi’s efforts, and even if they did, there is no benefit on it.

I don’t think it’s the retailers responsibility to build a buzz around Better Oats. If I’m a retailer, I just place it as an inexpensive alternative to Quaker Oats.

It’s really a shame though, this is a product with an abundance of merits whose only competition is Quaker and private label products, MOM Brands could do better … there is still time.

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
5 years 7 months ago

While a fan of “irony,” I wouldn’t like to speculate on the outcome. I guess the sales and consumer loyalty numbers will tell us the impact. Somehow, even by commenting I feel I’m adding to the “buzz.” How exciting!

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
5 years 7 months ago

MOM Brands gets plenty of props for both the frugality of recycling Pepsi’s “Choice of a New Generation” slogan and the marketing savvy displayed in adopting the slogan from a brand which owns MOM Brands’ competitor, Quaker Oats.

In doing so, MOM Brands has generated publicity — at least inside the CPG, retail and advertising industries. But for the average consumer shopping the cereal aisle, I doubt the irony of this whole episode will matter much. Whether MOM Brands can steal market share from Quaker Oats will depend primarily on drivers like taste — and a 50 cents off coupon wouldn’t hurt. Six months from now, the average Mom shopper probably won’t view MOM Brands as the choice of a new generation but as simply another choice in an overcrowded cereal aisle.


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