Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

Cornelius and His Corn Flakes: How Bastion Brought The Beloved Rooster to Life for Kellogg’s 100th Birthday

Advertising Agency
Melbourne, Australia
LBB’s Casey Martin spoke with Simon Langley, Angela Morris and Katy Grey on working with the historic Kellogg’s Corn Flake brand
Breakfast is a wonderful ritual. 

It can be a huge event, filled with fried eggs, toast, bacon, fruit, pancakes, sausages, blistered tomatoes, and of course, avocado on toast. However, breakfast is arguably at its best when it is at its simplest. 

It doesn’t quite get any better than the old reliable system of a bowl, some milk and a generous helping of cereal to get you ready for the day.  

It makes the mundane morning easy, and for many this repetitive ritual is a highlight in a constantly turbulent world. 

Kellogg's Cornflakes and the ever-charming mascot, Cornelius, featuring on packs since 1960.. They have provided millions of breakfast tables with ‘uncomplicated goodness’. 

The team at Bastion were given the opportunity to bring Cornelius in all his simplistic glory to life for the 100th anniversary of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.  And the result is a charming look at his journey from the farm to the breakfast table. 

LBB’s Casey Martin spoke with Bastion’s CCO, CSO and group client director on the incredible amount of responsibility that comes with working on a legacy brand. 

LBB> Kellogg’s has a huge legacy as a brand, and 100 years of Kellogg’s is a milestone that all brands hope to achieve. How did you approach the long-standing legacy and create something new? 

Angela> With the greatest respect! Kellogg’s Corn Flakes is an iconic brand and we needed to pinpoint what has enabled it to remain relevant for so long. That meant analysing the core brand truths (functional and emotional) and exploring consumer needs over time and today. This uncovered the enduring importance of ‘uncomplicated goodness’. Where the new came in, was in how we framed this from a message perspective and of course, how we brought it to life.  

The surprising thing is that whilst Australians are very familiar with the brand, they don’t know much about the product, its ingredients and how it’s made. Knowing it is and always has been made from corn from Aussie Farmers and from only four ingredients is compellingly reassuring and appealing. This was new news and we surfaced it in a way that consumers had never seen before, by bringing Cornelius the Kellogg’s rooster and the farm-to-table uncomplicated goodness story to life in a charming, engaging way.

LBB> Cornelius is a part of Australian history and Bastion brought him to life brilliantly. Talk us through the process of capturing his incredibly charming character. 

Simon> Bringing an icon like Cornelius to life comes with a great deal of responsibility. Both on the agency and client side. Luckily, we had worked together previously so we quickly formed a very close-knit team, having robust discussions up front about the type of character we wanted him to be and not be! 

Ultimately, we wanted Cornelius to have the characteristics of a real rooster, but with some human-like features to give him personality and warmth. We also worked closely with the director to ensure that we built moments into the narrative to deliver his human side, like (one of my favourite moments) where he wipes his feet before entering the family home. It’s just something a good country chap would do! And then visually there was the colour, texture and movement that would ultimately give Cornelius the realism we needed to bring it all together in a believable way. Let’s just say we became very good friends with the talented team at Synctum, with many late nights discussing rooster feathers! In the end, both agency and client couldn’t be happier with the Cornelius we created.

LBB> What did you learn during the creative process and how will you take what you’ve learnt into future projects? 

Katy> The passion and commitment from the entire team on this project was next level. Which meant at times, all sides ended up sweating the small stuff a little more than usual - which is to be expected on a project that has so many eyes on it, and so much responsibility. What we found was that many of the concerns became somewhat redundant as we moved through the various stages of modelling and compositing and elements started coming to life. 

The animation process is such a leap of faith. So, I think a key learning is trusting the process as much as you can and keeping the client very close and an extension of the team as you go on the journey.

LBB> What was the most important aspect of the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes brand and how do you believe other brands can learn from their simplicity?  

Angela> Simplicity can be a powerful product and brand promise. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. The challenge is to ensure that simplicity isn’t seen as ‘lack of’ and thus perceived as having less to offer than other choices. This is especially true in any category where the norm - like cereal – has become ‘more’; more ingredients & inclusions, more shapes, more flavours, more specific health benefits and more. 

The first lesson is to deep dive into what consumers are looking for and what is driving that, to establish whether and how simplicity can play a role. For example, people are increasingly seeking less processed foods and the morning occasion is one when a ‘simple start’ consisting of ‘goodness’ is a key driver. The second learning is to thoroughly review the product story behind that simplicity. What the ingredients are, their origins and journey, how they are processed, how that translates into how the product looks and the eating experience - to determine which can be leveraged to create appeal and ‘added value’ in simplicity. Thus, for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes the value wasn’t simplicity alone - it was simplicity framed in the context of the farm provenance, limited ingredients, minimal processing, simple eat and flavour, the morning occasion and ultimately the ‘uncomplicated goodness’ benefit. And of course, we were fortunate to have a brand character & DBA that naturally symbolises the enduring charm and appeal of ‘the simple country life’ in Cornelius the rooster. 

LBB> What challenges did you face in the creation process and how did you overcome them? 

Katy> Creating a film with CGI and live action is never a simple, linear process. When you combine this with bringing to life an iconic and much-loved brand mascot for the very first time globally – and never forgetting he’s been the face of the Corn Flakes brand for nearly half its history - it is not only complex and high stakes, but there are also many passionate points of view! Add to that, the concept tested ridiculously well. So, it was a delicate balance of staying true to the moments that drove key copy testing metrics, while delivering an emotive film that told the story of Corny overseeing the creation of Corn Flakes from farm to table - all in 30 seconds! Overcoming these challenges was about openness and trust and is testament to the passion, commitment and co-collaboration between the Bastion, Corn Flakes marketing and production teams. It was true co-creation with many hours spent workshopping the best way forward together, to deliver a final output that we are all incredibly proud of.

LBB> As a creative, do you believe that there is something to be learnt from the ‘uncomplicated goodness’ that surrounds the Corn Flake brand? Does simplicity have a place within the market? 

Simon> Absolutely. The best ideas have always been the simplest ones. And in this complex world of communications we navigate and ideate for each day, it’s never been more important. Consumers are literally being bombarded, so a simple message that is original and engaging has more chance of cutting through the noise and connecting on a deeper level.

LBB> If Cornelius were to work in the creative industry, what role do you think he would have? 

Simon> Head of Innovation. As the Kellogg's icon, Cornelius has overseen the legacy of the masterbrand for 100 years - from Kellogg's many cereal innovations, production developments and sustainability initiatives. 

He's got the wisdom of age, deep understanding of human wants and needs, and he's had a vantage point across product formats, occasions and needs over time - all of which make him well  qualified as a visionary, innovator and ideator to reimagine what the next 100 years looks like.

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