Last week I was watching a TV show that had quite a bit of violence in it, so much that the network alerted viewers that viewer discretion was advised. I watch a lot of TV that could fit that bill: politics and espionage shows such as “The Americans,” “Scandal,” “The Blacklist.” So that was not what caught my attention.
What caught my attention was the commercial that ran before the warning: an animated spot about an election of sorts for new Pop-Tarts flavors. The commercial caught me so off guard that after it ran, I had to look at my TV’s program guide to see if I was watching a show for kids without realizing I had changed the channel.
What was Pop-Tarts doing advertising on a show for grown-ups? It’s a breakfast food for kids and teenagers, or so I thought. Perhaps the ad was aimed at parents, but the cartoony content made me wonder.
Pop-Tarts’ current campaign ties in to the upcoming election. And brings attention to the several new Pop-Tarts flavors. “There’s 22 flavors, why should you be Pop-Tart President,” the pink poodle character/moderator of the debate asks the Chocolatey Caramel Pop Tart before hitting the “toast” button and kicking him off stage. In 1964, Pop-Tarts came in just four flavors: strawberry, blueberry, apple, and brown sugar cinnamon. Now there are 33, including S’mores, Confetti Cupcake, Watermelon, and Red Velvet. You can vote for your favorite, or as Kellogg’s calls it, Pop the Vote, here.
The last time I paid attention to a box of Pop-Tarts, there was a sweepstakes on the box for tickets to a concert and a backstage visit with Austin Mahone. I had to look him up, and I quickly found he appeals to a much younger demographic than would have been watching the show where viewer discretion was advised.
Pop-Tarts turned 50 in 2014. There was a lot of press surrounding this birthday. I found out, in an article from the Wall Street Journal titled “Amid Kale and Quinoa, Pop-Tarts Keeps Hanging On” (and, with a title like that, how do you not read the whole article?) that unlike most foods, and especially most sugary breakfast options with questionable nutritional value, Pop-Tarts has seen solid sales growth, 32 straight years of it.
In fact, in 2015, the last time sales figures were released for the brand, it had generated $759M in sales in the US. At about $3 for a box of 8 pastries, that’s a lot of kids’ breakfasts. There has to be more to it.
It turns out consumers of all ages keep the growth going. Teenage Austin Mahone fans eat a lot of Pop-Tarts, as do younger kids. Kellogg’s told WSJ that the biggest buyer of Pop-Tarts is among homes with kids 6-17, but teens are really the driving force. Additionally, adults still dig in as a “retro snack” and Kellogg’s has been targeting them on the nostalgia side of things, tapping into their youthful memories of the toasted pastry as a great way to start the day.
A little more sleuthing revealed the spot I saw last week was not an anomaly. iSpot.tv says Pop-Tarts has aired 2,046 spots nationally in the last 30 days. That is about 500 spots a week. Also running about 500 spots a week lately? The Apple iPhone.