Better Oats wages marketing war on Quaker

NORTHFIELD, MN: Malt-O-Meal's new Better Oats brand is challenging market leader Quaker Oats with a seven-figure "Grains of Change" campaign, including a national taste test and competitive messaging.

NORTHFIELD, MN: Malt-O-Meal's new Better Oats brand is challenging market leader Quaker Oats with a seven-figure “Grains of Change” campaign, including a national taste test and competitive messaging. 

The 20-variety product launched this spring, and a roll out to 16,000 US stores will culminate this fall, explained Malt-O-Meal CEO Chris Neugent 

“We're a small company against an icon, and it's been a long time since anyone has given Quaker any serious competition,” said Malt-O-Meal CEO Chris Neugent. “Anyone can buy an ad, but the challenge is credibility.”

With an election theme that leverages an anti-incumbent sentiment, the team, including AOR Hunter PR, is traveling to five cities in eight days and lets consumers vote on which instant oatmeal brand they like more. On Monday, the tour kicked off in Quakertown, PA. Over the course of the tour, Better Oats will also donate one million bowls of oatmeal to local food banks. And for every person that votes onsite at each campaign rally, Better Oats will donate an additional 100 bowls of oatmeal to the local food banks.

A message about the brand's investment in the actual product, versus traditional advertising, resonates throughout the campaign. As does a hard hit to Quaker. The press release read:

“And even though Quaker, a division of PepsiCo, has the resources of a huge conglomerate, its recent sales figures have shown a marked decline. Better Oats, on the other hand, is showing remarkable strength, exceeding expectations with placement in over 16,000 stores nationwide.”

Neugent told PRWeek, “We've been working on this for three years now. We decided to do a national launch versus a test launch because we knew that with [Quaker's] pocketbook, they'll come out full guns blazing and try to squash us.”   

He explained that the Better Oats campaign has a seven-figure, year-long marketing budget, but it's nowhere near $100 million.

The team is also touting its price-point, healthy ingredients, and new packaging, which it said is smaller, eco-friendly, and provides more room on the shelf for additional product and flavors.  

A Better Oats Facebook page serves as a main promotional platform, showcasing a Grains of Change tour itinerary, videos, images, tweets, and voting results.

Aside from the grassroots approach, Neugent said that the company is doing a lot of in-store promotion.

Of the voting, he said, “It'll end with the election season."

“I think we're going to win,” he added. “If we win there's more to do.”

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