I’m going to offer you a vision of what will happen if you don’t.” This year, the speaker who stole the show was Deanie Elsner, President of Kellogg’s Snacks Division, who shared how YouTube has transformed the way they approach their brand campaigns today. (I also knew you’d want to read, “Video trends: 8 critical industry takeaways from NewFronts 2018” first. Kellogg’s: How YouTube Changed Our Understanding of the Consumer Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube: Please welcome Deanie Elsner, President of U.S. Snacks for Kellogg’s. So in partnership with our creative agency, we created a campaign around the theme of “So much to love.” The first part of this campaign started with changing our packaging so that consumers could write personalized messages directly on the wrapper. That insight became the “A-Ha” moment for our digital campaign. Now, the challenge that was in front of us was: “How do you individualize that idea so that our message resonated with consumers when they’re the most receptive?” We were lucky to be one of the first brands in the US to use a new tool called “YouTube Director Mix,” which allowed us to customize our creative with ease, resulting in over 250 personalized assets that could be delivered to consumers in different contexts on YouTube. This campaign became the watershed moment for Kellogg’s because it opened our eyes to the power of using Google and YouTube to deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time. In fact, the success of Rice Krispies Treats led us to reimagine our strategy for Pringles. Now, brands across Kellogg’s are partnering with our agencies and YouTube to create value for our consumers, while delivering business results. We went from spending very little on digital platforms, to now spending 60-70% of our overall marketing budget.
Three years ago, John Green, an author and a vlogger, stole the show at YouTube’s Brandcast 2015 event in Madison Square Garden. He did it by saying, “Unlike the other people onstage here tonight, I’m not here to entertain you. I’m not here to educate you. Tonight, I’m here to scare you. See, most people onstage tonight are arguing why you should advertise on YouTube. But I’m going to offer you something different. I’m going to offer you a vision of what will happen if you don’t.”
This year, the speaker who stole the show was Deanie Elsner, President of Kellogg’s Snacks Division, who shared how YouTube has transformed the way they approach their brand campaigns today. Coincidentally, her story also started in 2015.
Now, the $4 billion Snack business unit at Kellogg’s has over 1,000 employees and 8 plants that manufacture iconic brands such as Pringles, Keebler, and Cheez-It. She is a passionate disruptor, taking on the toughest challenges, using her head and heart to set bold direction and inspiring her team to achieve great things. And she has led the turn-around of three businesses across three different categories within both domestic and international geographies.
Her presentation at Brandcast 2018 knocked my socks off. And I knew instantly that you would want to drill down into what she said. (I also knew you’d want to read, “Video trends: 8 critical industry takeaways from NewFronts 2018” first. But, I juggled the order in which I had planned to drill down into some of the events to move this up in the order.)
Now, I’m going to give you a couple of options. You can watch the 7-minute, 13-second long video embedded in my column, you can read the transcript of her remarks below, or you can do both. Hey, it’s up to you. But, you will want to know the Kellogg’s Snacks success story.
Kellogg’s: How YouTube Changed Our Understanding of the Consumer
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube: Please welcome Deanie Elsner, President of U.S. Snacks for Kellogg’s.
Deanie Elsner: As a 100-year-old company with a portfolio of heritage brands, including Cheez-It, Pop-Tarts, and Frosted Flakes cereal, we never take for granted that we need to be more than just a packaged food company. Kellogg’s is actually an important member of the family at moments throughout the entire day. So, at this point I have to believe the question you’re asking yourselves is: “What the heck could a company like Kellogg’s tell us about technology or how we’re going to connect with consumers in an authentic way digitally?” That’s a very good question.
When I started at Kellogg’s in late 2015, it was a time of transformation. While we participated in the growing $90 billion snacks category, Kellogg’s snacks brands were not keeping pace. Sales were declining and it was clear that the center of our challenge was the fact that we were losing touch with our consumers. We had to embrace the idea that the consumer is the new CEO and is calling the shots. And we had to recognize that they’re turning to social media and digital platforms like YouTube to communicate, engage with their friends, and connect with the brands they love.
But the problem was our presence on many of those platforms was nonexistent. For example, our spend on YouTube in 2015 was zero. We were aware that many conversations about our brand were…