How Kellogg’s aligns brand values in sport to drive marketing success

There are few brands in Australia that are as synonymous with sport as Kellogg’s. For four decades, partnerships with athletes have been a central pillar of the company’s growth and the incredible success of its brands.

On an episode of Pickstar’s Off-Field podcast, Kellogg’s Breakfast Portfolio Lead Dan Bitti explained the importance of aligning the values of the business’s brands with those of the sports stars they partner with.

The advantage of values-led sports partnerships

Dan describes sports partnerships as “cultural pillars” that bring the values of brands to life.

“(By) aligning to brands and other partners that share that same value exchange, you can work together to make all of your communications better and link into the culture in such a way that it provides you that real strength in the way that you communicate,” he said on the podcast.

“It wasn’t until (I was) working in the alcohol space that you really see that great alignment with some of the brands that live there, Bundaberg Rum is one of them being so connected up in North Queensland and to the community there. And if you weren't aligned with something like Rugby League in that part of the country, you really didn't resonate in the same sort of way.”

Nutri-Grain's trail blazing partnership with Ironman athletes

According to Dan, values-led sports partnerships have been helping Kellogg’s grow their brands since as early as 1980 when Nutri-Grain partnered with Ironman rising star Grant Kelly.

“As a 16-year-old he won his first junior and senior title in Australia and that became the part of history that really forged this great relationship between the sport, the people of the sport, those amazing athletes… and the brand itself.

“Linking with a sport that was synonymous with surf in Australia, having talents like a 16-year-old kid like Grant Kenny making his waves in 1980 in both the junior and senior league, and displaying the values that we live as a brand: strength, courage, and determination.

“There's not too many brands that can boast they've had that sort of tenure with any single partnership. You can't ask a single human being in Australia what Nutri-Grain is without them responding, ‘Well, it's Ironman food’."

New partnerships with the AFLW and Hockey One leagues

Dan explains that Kellogg’s has taken that model of matching the specific values of a brand to particular athletes and sporting codes to other brands in the Kellogg’s suite. A more recent values-led sports partnership is the one between Special K and the AFLW league.

“The values of Special K and what it's trying to do and what it's trying to demonstrate are very different,” he said.

“Kellogg's as a business is a highly inclusive culture. We promote massive levels of diversity (and) ensure that we give equal opportunity to men and women, and I think being an inaugural sponsor of the AFLW was a real demonstration of that. Stepping in when the AFL was looking to expand their competition, create pathways for women, to be able to play that game at such a high level, and ensure that they were given a platform to be able to perform and play the game that they loved at the highest level. It feels like a really great fit for a brand like Special K, which is all about inspiring the next generation of strong women.”

That brand value of equality also drives Kellogg’s partnership with Sultana Bran and the Hockey One league, as well as Hockey’s appeal to players of all ages.

“We've got a brand in Sultana Bran that has been equally in Australians' homes for a similar tenure to that of Nutri-Grain,” he said.

One of the things about Sultana Bran is (it’s) an all-family brand. It's all about ensuring that we promote wholesome values, that families are all given the same sort of opportunities to thrive, get up and go. And we've got a positioning around full-on days starting with full-on fibre, which is a real functional piece that sits behind the product.”

“For us, (Hockey Australia) is starting to establish this national competition, which provides a place for these players to come through the grassroots, showcase the skill at a state-based level in teams to go represent all over the country within a national competition and then use that as a pathway to the senior competition, to play at a national level or internationally.

“That gives us a really great role to play in terms of promoting a game that is played by men and women equally across Australia from grassroots all the way up to the national level.

“The thing we love about it at the same time is that even on game day, both men and women are equally billed. So the men's team will play the first game, females play the second and then that's inverted the following week. So the females play the first game and the men will play the second.

“It's really about equal opportunity, it's really about that inclusiveness that the game provides and it ladders up perfectly to the values of Sultana Bran.”

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