Drink Tank

Kellogg’s Australia said it was a ‘no brainer’ and it was

Alcohol harm and Kellogg’s Cornflakes.

Not words that you’d normally see together. Nor is breakfast cereal a regular topic of conversation on Drink Tank.

There was once a more innocent time when the only thing objectionable about Kellogg’s Cornflakes was the taste, with some unkind consumers suggesting the cardboard packaging it came in was tastier and more nutritious.

A 2015 CHOICE survey of 170 supermarket breakfast cereals comparing health star ratings, fibre and sugar content, and gluten-free options, found the same, ranking Kellogg’s Corn flakes a lowly 135th ranking.

Neither particularly tasty nor healthy, or fashionable, Kellogg’s Cornflakes is today’s poor breakfast cereal cousin, surrounded on supermarket shelves with products boasting their chia and almond, probiotic and antioxidant credentials.

So perhaps it was a desire for relevance and edginess that has seen Kellogg’s partner with neighbouring business, One Drop Brewing, a micro-brewery that opened its doors in Botany earlier this year.

In the words of Bruno Madonna, director of research and technology at Kellogg, “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has been a catalyst to many amazing creations over the years so partnering with local Botany brewery, One Drop, seemed like a no brainer”.

And if by ‘no brainer’ he means to suggest little or no mental effort went into the idea, then I tend to agree.

Because here’s the problem.

Alcohol is Australia’s most harmful drug and it is no contest. Alcohol causes nearly 6,000 deaths per year. To put that into even sharper focus, of every 22 people who die in Australia, one of those deaths is attributable to alcohol. Alcohol is addictive, and a class 1 carcinogen, like tobacco. If you haven’t got the whiff yet, the alcohol in one bottle of wine has the equivalent cancer risk of smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 cigarettes for women.

Add to the mix the fact that alcohol has never been cheaper, more readily available or more aggressively and recklessly marketed and promoted, and you begin to understand why rates of alcohol harm remain so high.

You begin to understand that alcohol has become so normalised that our awareness of the very real threat of harm has dissolved like a bowl of soggy corn flakes.

Yet alcohol isn’t an ordinary commodity, for example, and ironically enough, like a box of cornflakes, because of the magnitude of harm caused to alcohol users and also to others.

And as the physical and financial harm from alcohol escalates day by day in Australia, so too does the manner in which alcohol is further embedded into our everyday lives and activities; with every new pub choir, yoga beer session, fun run through a vineyard complete with wine tasting drink stations, and now with the latest Kellogg’s Australia collaboration – One Drop Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Nitro Milkshake IPA.

This is not Kellogg’s first foray into beer collaborations. Kellogg’s UK partnered with Seven Bro7hers Brewery to produce Throw Away IPA, an Indian Pale Ale made at its Manchester factory from rejected Kellogg’s corn flakes considered not good enough for cereal. In a smart three-for-one move Kellogg’s could claim to reduce waste, boost its environmental cred, and at the same time partner with an edgy beer.

Across the Tasman, Kellogg’s New Zealand partnered with Hallertau Brewery to produce Hallertau Crunchy Nut Soule Ale.

Of note, the Kellogg’s branding was understated on both of those beers.

But here in Oz, Kellogg’s Australia clearly decided to turn the branding dial up to eleven. Kellogg’s cartoon mascot, Corny the rooster, features as prominently on the One Drop Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Nitro Milkshake IPA as he does on the box of cereal he has adorned since his introduction in 1957.

What are kids to make of a bright can brandishing the words ‘cornflakes’ and ‘milkshake’, the logo Kellogg’s and a cartoon rooster? They do not have the capacity to know this is supposedly an adult beverage.

Such branding, with its clear appeal and recognition to children is unacceptable, should be deemed a clear breach of alcohol advertising standards and is way out of line with community standards and expectations.

FARE is lodging official complaints about this product with Liquor and Gaming NSW, ABAC and the AARB.

Michael Thorn

Michael was was Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) from January 2011 until November 2019

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