Newspaper Advertising: Case study - Shredded Wheat

The story

Cereals are bang at the centre of healthy eating. Consumers show an increasing desire not just for healthier food, but also for greater transparency in relation to that food's origin and process. As a cereal made from just one ingredient, Shredded Wheat is well positioned to benefit from these trends.

The Shredded Wheat portfolio takes in a range of variants, from the original "big biscuit" through the Bitesize sub-brand and flavour variants. Target audience for the brand is more attitudinal than demographic; those who are focused on long-term health.

The brand's objective was to encourage lapsed and existing users to choose Shredded Wheat. By joining with the Newspaper Marketing Agency to test the medium, the brand wanted to understand what adding newspapers could deliver, and how consumers would respond to the TV and newspapers combined.

In developing the newspaper executions, creative pre-testing was helpful. Response to the initial work on the "pack" route (1) was that it was well-branded and provided clear communication of the "single ingredient" message. This message was relevant and entirely appropriate in the medium; newspapers play an important role for their readers in providing information and insights on healthy eating.

The next stage of creative development focused on strengthening the noticeability and engagement of "pack". Some of the test ads focused on the packet and its claim that it offered 100 per cent whole grain wheat (2). Other test ads featured the product (3).

A second round of focus group testing was carried out. For an ad to work hard in the paper it needs to be comprehensible and have instant visual impact; imagery that draws the reader in. It was clear the work achieved this; even a cursory glance at the creative generated strong registration of the Shredded Wheat brand.

Although the link between the TV (which featured Ian Botham) and press creative could have been more overt, they were recognised as being part of the same message and had the same tone. These press executions clearly reinforced the product story. As a final enhancement, a distinctive colour background was incorporated to strengthen standout in the paper.

NMA studies have found that consumers appreciate copy that is relevant and succinct in the newspaper medium. The copy approach in the Shredded Wheat executions adhered to this principle. The ads were viewed as minimalist, direct and understated.

A mix of ads that featured heart health and single ingredient claims (4-5) ran in the papers. Brand tracking by Millward Brown showed that the newspaper ads had considerable stopping power, with above average scores on measures such as "it's very eye-catching". Consumers engaged much more actively with the TV ads when they had been exposed to the newspaper ads. Overall, the TV and newspaper partnership created significant shifts in brand image for Shredded Wheat.

In addition, the newspaper campaign helped build upon the success of the latest TV campaign and has been identified as being a real driver of sales in its own right, with conservative estimates of uplifts in the region of 4 per cent attributed to this activity. For a brand of such long-standing heritage and in a highly competitive category, this represents a valuable contribution to helping achieve brand objectives.

- Simon Hill is an account planner at McCann Erickson; Phil Toms is the product group manager at Shredded Wheat.

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