Eat right. Practice hard. Do your best. The three canons for Tony’s Team Tiger, Kellogg Canada’s award-winning promotional program for Frosted Flakes, resonate clearly in every aspect of the campaign.
But more important is the new role of Tony himself. For 40 years, Tony the Tiger has played a cheerleading role, roaring in appreciation when kids score the game-winning goal. Tony’s Team Tiger was a mission to reinvent Tony, one of the world’s most powerful brand-born icons, by shifting his role from cheerleader to coach. The result is a more authoritative and knowledgeable character, a trusted figure better suited to helping kids build their self-esteem.
‘This was really to be the next generation of Frosted Flakes marketing,’ says Mark Childs, VP of marketing for Kellogg Canada. ‘The launch of this program was a departure for us. Up until that point there’d been various different expressions of winning.’ Now the message was more about personal achievement.
The program, which is still running today, debuted in July 1999. The TV element included two 30-second spots and two tags. The first spot, Voices, aired from July to October 1999. The second spot, Vince/Travis, began airing at the end of January 2000. The two tags, Bag and Web, let kids know how they could get Team Tiger sports gear by collecting on-pack tokens and promoted www.team-tiger.com, the web component of the promo. Two contests, free sports clinics, celebrity on-line chats and premium giveaways rounded out the elaborate promotion.
Talks began in the spring of 1999 when Leo Burnett, Toronto, and Kellogg Canada got together to figure out how they could revitalize Tony. Keeping Tony fresh was always a priority, but now Kellogg and its tiger had to learn how to communicate with a savvier audience.
Research with child psychologists identified self-esteem as an important issue for kids. ‘We felt we needed to understand self-esteem a lot better,’ says Childs, ‘how to bring a program to life for kids that builds their self-esteem through enabling them to achieve more in sports.’ This research helped Kellogg formulate a new message of self-esteem through personal achievement, with Tony providing support.
‘From an advertising perspective, television is still king when it comes to kids in terms of driving awareness,’ says Childs. But during the promo’s inception, it became obvious that 30-second TV spots weren’t enough on their own to convey the ambitious and sophisticated messages Kellogg had in mind, so the team decided to go with a mix of on- and off-air initiatives, all under the Tony’s Team Tiger banner.
With that in mind, Burnett and Kellogg had to come up with a new creative vehicle. ‘What if we had a virtual team? Tony could become the coach of this virtual team for kids that they could feel a part of. That was the seed,’ explains David Moore, executive VP, group head for Leo Burnett, Toronto.
On the web front, the key was involving kids with the tenets, making it fun and getting them to stay on the site. Team-tiger.com launched in October 1999, highlighting sports through games such as a snowboarding simulator where the player has to avoid obstacles and pick up food to keep his or her energy levels up. The idea was to provide ‘good play value,’ Moore says, and a level of recognition. Virtual badges (stored in the member’s Team Tiger on-line profile) are offered for completing skill levels.
The site kicked things off through on-line chats with sports figures like Toronto Raptors basketball star Vince Carter, hosted by chat-expert SLAM! Sports, the on-line sporting arm of Toronto-based Sun Media division Canoe. ‘Vince Carter embodies the whole spirit and approach of Team Tiger,’ says Childs. ‘Getting coaching tips and being able to ask Vince something in an on-line chat. . . For a child who’s trying to do their best in their chosen sport, what better motivator is out there to inspire you?’
An instant-win ‘Be a ball boy/ball girl’ sweeps ran from mid-May to December 1999 to stir up interest beyond the web. The idea grew through the relationship between Kellogg and NBA Canada. ‘Kellogg and its promotional team came to us,’ explains Peter King, NBA Canada’s manager of marketing partnerships. ‘They wanted something exclusive and exciting, and we came up with `Be a ball boy/ball girl at the 2000 All-Star game in Oakland, California.” Other prizes included NBA-branded basketballs and jerseys.
The following summer, Toronto’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which represents teams such as the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, added to the interactive reach of the campaign with Tony’s Team Tiger Free Youth Clinics. The clinics for six- to 11-year-olds had already run for a couple of years, but this was the first time they were offered in cooperation with Kellogg. Jeff Deline, account executive, corporate partnerships for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, targeted areas in the Greater Toronto Area and ran the clinics for two hours a day from August 7 through August 11 of this year. The agency wasn’t required to get a player to support the program, but Deline says that Raptors player Antonio Davis was interested and willing, so they signed him up. The youth clinics-like the Vince Carter element of the program-were seen to embody the Team Tiger canon, getting kids directly involved in their own improvement.
Other special events, contests and merchandising offers were rolled out earlier this year. A second contest, called ‘Be a Team Tiger Member,’ gave kids across Canada the chance to appear in the next Tony’s Team Tiger TV spot. The contest was announced on-line, on TV, and on boxes of Frosted Flakes in February, and ran through April 2000. Kids entered by sending in postcards with tips on how to meet Tony’s challenge to eat right, practice hard and do your best.
Two kids won the chance to appear in the next national TV spot, filmed in October and is slated to air before the end of this year.
An early-bird prize was also offered for entries submitted before the end of March. Through this initiative, 150 kids won the chance to have their first names, photos and Team Tiger tips featured in 500,000 Year 2000 Tony’s Team Tiger activity planners, which were distributed across Canada through grocery stores, Sports Chek franchises and 2,500 participating schools. In addition, 12 third prize winners got their names, photos and tips featured on Tony’s Team Tiger sports cards, which were distributed in-pack. Finally, two kids won the chance to have their pictures on boxes of Frosted Flakes.
Today the team-tiger.com site has over 37,000 registered members and repeat visitors. Childs says the promotion resulted in a ‘dramatic increase’ in the cereal’s market share as well as an increase in household penetration.
But what about the new Tony?
Focus group research involving kids ages six to 11 shows that Tony’s role has indeed changed from that of the spirit-raising cheerleader to something more pedagogic and coach-like, says Childs. After only a year and a half in his new role, kids already see Tony as more knowledgeable in things they’re interested in. Childs adds that given the success so far, cereal eaters can look for more Team Tiger youth clinics, ads and web developments designed to make Tony more relevant and applicable to their lives.