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.


globalcopywrite said...

Hello Stephen,

This is a really interesting post. I grew up in America and ate Cheerios regularly. I was thrilled when they first came to Australia but was quickly disappointed from the very first box. The Cheerios sold in Australia is nothing like the brand sold in the USA. The American version is extremely low on sugar and contains only oats. The Australian version was much sweeter with 4 different grains. Cheerios are commonly given to babies in America as a high-chair snack specifically because they're a healthy choice.

What I see happening now is the Australian version coming more in line with the traditional USA version of Cheerios. They haven't given us the yellow packaging all Americans are familiar with but that won't matter if they get back to providing a great bowl of healthy cereal.

Thanks for this post. I wouldn't have bothered with Cheerios in Australia again but I'm willing to give it another try.

What really fascinates me is why Nestle fiddled with a winning formula in the first place? And, why, leave the impression the product they delivered in Australia was the beloved product from America? It wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly! I lived for 10 years inthe USA and loved the Cheerios cereal sold there. The Aussie version is based on the English Cheerios and nothing at all like the American one. I buy my good old American Cheerios from USA Foods in Melbourne and have raised my 3 children on them as well. They are far healthier and taste much better as well. I too cannot understand why oh why did Australia have to go and put that awful cereal on the market. Our children, not to mention our tastebuds, deserve better!