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Kellogg's has been forced to deny reports that it plans to ditch long-standing Frosties mascot Tony the Tiger after 60 years.
The Daily Mail yesterday claimed the character faced an 'uncertain future' after the cereal brand suffered a drop in sales.
So is it time for Tony to retire or is he still grrreat?
The Brand Union's Dave Brown and Evidently's Daniel Zeff examine the case for and against releasing the tiger...
Dave Brown, worldwide head of consumer branding, The Brand Union
I have to say that upon opening the paper today my heart sunk a little. Kellogg’s potentially axing Frosties’ Tony the Tiger after sixty years? It’s practically inhumane!
Thankfully, Kellogg’s quickly came out to quash the story, but Tony’s been caged for quite some time now and the Frosties brand lies dormant. It naturally begs the question whether a brand refresh is needed to kick-start a revival in the brand, and Tony’s withdrawal could be the platform to do that.
I think we can all agree that the return of a beloved consumer favourite, cynical ploy or not, can be an incredibly powerful driver for a brand or product, especially when it comes to reviving an ailing brand. What better way than to remind how much consumers love something by threatening to take it away? You can go as far back as the eighties when Coca-Cola inadvertently became the dominant cola brand by trying earnestly to improve its recipe, and sparking a nationwide backlash.
Today, we’ve seen it with the Andrex puppies, Barry Scott, the Diet Coke ‘hunk’; and it’s looking like Compare the Market may be playing a similar game in removing the beloved meerkats. So if it’s worked so many times before, why shouldn’t Kellogg’s try to attempt the same?
Well, one size does not fit all. Tony the Tiger is an iconic brand equity and such an emotional asset for Frosties. He resonates with such a wide cross-section of consumers; even certain grandparents will look back fondly upon the character – despite the 21st century concerns over the sugar content.
If Kellogg’s are intending to awaken Frosties from its seemingly sleeping state, likely with a slightly healthier recipe as they did with Honey Loops, then the Tony character will be important in that transition. He could be relaunched as a different kind of spokesperson for good for the brand. Yes he appealed/appeals to kids in a fun and 'cool' way, but he could also play a role which appeals more to mums as 'gatekeeper' in a health-conscious way, perhaps even with an educational element involved too.
To remove and scapegoat him as either a symbolic gesture, or a ploy to drum up short-term sentiment, would be to overlook the larger, more pressing product concerns that need to be addressed whilst sacrificing an asset that other brands could only dream of building.
If anything, Tony has been caged for far too long – in fact, why not launch a ‘Don’t Blame Tony’ campaign? Set the Tiger free!
Daniel Zeff, CEO, Evidently
Kids love tigers. Tony is an absolutely iconic of both our childhood and how we understand breakfast. The problem isn’t whether Frosties is good or bad for you, and it isn't the role of state to tell brands how they should and shouldn't advertise. Parents choose what their kids eat.
However, what this does do is give Frosties a unique opportunity to re-invent Tony, update him and make him relevant for the needs of today's consumers where healthy choices are part of every kid's breakfast.
If I was to re-invent Tony the Tiger I'd think of him like Sportacus in the kids TV show Lazy Town, with Tony inspiring kids to make healthy good sporting choices, active choices, based on a turbo-fuelled breakfast. Tony the Tiger is as relevant to kids today as he’s ever been; he just needs a bit of love.
The day that we start censoring brands from inspiring kids is the day we go down the road of banning brands for everyone. It isn’t the role of brands to limit choice; it's the role of brands to help consumer make good choices.
In terms of re-inventing Tony - the next question is how does that come to life for the generation who have grown up with touch screen devices and video at their fingertips? Frosties can engage with their consumer and also inspire new positive attitude towards health and wellbeing.
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