12 November 2009
Three years on, Nestle makes its first rebranding play with Uncle Tobys
Global food giant Nestlé acquired the cereal and snackfoods brand Uncle Tobys in May 2006. The background to the purchase was that Nestlé had very limited presence in the breakfast cereal category In Australia at the time. Its Milo and Nesquik brands of sugary cereals competed with Kellogg's Coco Pops, and it had recently brought the US cereal brand Cheerios to the Australian market through its international partnership with General Mills. But Cheerios (as shown here in the Nestlé archive) didn't exactly set the local market on fire, either.
As I said here at the time, I thought it was most unlikely that Nestlé would add any obvious Nestlé parent branding to Uncle Tobys products, given that the Uncle Tobys brand equity and consumer loyalty owed so much to associations with "Australian" and "healthy", an image strongly supported by its sponsorships of swimming and surf lifesaving.
Interesting now to see Nestlé recognising that brand extension is a two-way street. The company is now leveraging the "healthy" and "Australian" associations by relaunching Cheerios under the Uncle Tobys brand name. The product now has less sugar, "90% more fibre" and the Heart Foundation tick (whatever that's worth).
But how to downplay the American-ness of Cheerios? They are, after all, the quintessential American cereal brand... as seen on TV. Easy - use the home-grown talent. The new Cheerios ad campaign features good, honest Aussie workers, real country folk from the Uncle Tobys factory in Wahgunyah on the Murray River in Northern Victoria, welcoming Cheerios to the Uncle Tobys family.