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Why Nestlé is relaunching Cheerios campaigns in Brazil to fit families of all sizes

Out of 200 brands across 21 categories, not a single brand in Nestlé Brazil’s portfolio has emerged unscathed from recent months. Marketing chief Frank Pflaumer tells us why now is the time to bring flagship cereal brand Cheerios back to the breakfast table.

With hundreds of brands across dozens of categories, Nestlé had a lot to lose from a global pandemic. So, back in March, as part of the company's efforts to insulate itself from the economic impact of Covid-19, it paused 75% of its marketing plans; remaining spend focused on the FMCG giant’s coronavirus efforts.

One of the brands impacted was Cheerios, which saw its new ‘One Size Fits All’ campaign delayed by several months. But, with the initial rush of consumer demand for Nestlé’s products over, the company had in the idea that it fast-tracked it back to the front of the queue.

Cheerios is a relatively new product to Brazil, where it is marketed by Cereal Partners Worldwide, a partnership run by Nestlé and General Mills. Having been made available to breakfast tables in March 2017, the Cheerios team has been working with ad agency partner FCB Brazil on its most recent campaign activities, overseen by Frank Pflaumer, head of marketing and communications at Nestlé Brazil.

Disrupted routines

The marketing calendar sees 12 months worth of marketing plans set for most of Nestlé’s brands typically completed by November, Pflaumer tells The Drum.

“A lot of our brands, instead of talking about their functional and emotional benefits to consumers, shifted from thinking about consumers to thinking about people. Now we have to talk to people, it’s not about consumers. If they consume our product or not, this is not relevant. We have to establish a connection with them.”

His team began upgrading Nestlé’s e-commerce set-up to meet the new circumstances.

“Many of our brands tripled their sales on e-commerce, some selling four times what they used to do, before we paid a lot of attention to our e-commerce efforts. So we have done a lot of work there. We were not totally prepared for everything that we are doing now, so we really had to work overnight to adapt ourselves to this process. But in terms of brands connecting to consumers, it’s been very different,” he says. Pflaumer says he hopes that lessons learned around establishing consumer connections will continue to be implemented in the future.

The new Cheerios campaign is one of the few that has survived the cull to make it to market. It is based around the production of eight different ‘family sizes’ of boxes to suit different family units, part of Cheerios’ recognition that 2.4 children is not the a model for families everywhere.

The ‘One Size Fits All’ campaign sees the boxes range from 120g, for people who share their homes with a pet, 480g for couples with kids and pets, to 2.4kg for ‘frat friends who are like brothers.’

“The brand Cheerios has always celebrated all types of family – it has that history,” says Pflaumer. He notes the activity has already won an internal award for creativity.

The ’family size’ campaign was initially scheduled to run early in 2020. But the pandemic, and the subsequent rise in consumer demand experienced by Nestlé across Brazil, meant that it was put on the back burner.

“We have done the homework for the pandemic and now we are we are back on track,” he says. Now, Pflaumer asserts that it’s time to bring the campaign back. “We have a lot of people to align not only in Brazil by the outside of Brazil, so we have done the homework and alignment and we presented to all the lead stakeholders to get their approvals to go forward. We did this during the pandemic because this was something rather easy to do. But the actual work of producing everything and getting it ready was really recent and [because of the delay] we have gained time to dedicate to this to this process.”

The FCB Brazil-produced campaign includes an animated television spot with illustration and animation studio from Black Madre, as well as an social campaign utilizing ’family’ influencers. The aim is to have them share their own experiences and drive conversations around family life under lockdown.

While the new box designs are limited to the campaign, Pflaumer suggests they could become a permanent fixture in the Cheerios lineup. “Maybe we will go back to the business unit to say: ‘Let's produce a new bag for this new configuration.’ We are open to that.”

More importantly, the initiative could see Cheerios take a more inclusive approach to its family focused marketing. He says: “We have got to find new stories.“

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