Corn Flakes were so familiar to viewers of Super Bowl XXVI that the execution here by Leo Burnett, the brand's agency since 1951, strives to make them noticeable again -- to, as the tag line urges, "Taste them again for the first time."
The consumer product dates back nearly 90 years before the game, first gaining some notice in an ad in the July 1906 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. The ad included a coupon that consumers were urged to bring to their grocers, who would sign it it and thereby request to carry Corn Flakes. Any shoppers who succeeded in signing up a story got "a season's worth" of free Corn Flakes.
It was a creative ad play by Kellogg Co., established just that year by William Keith Kellogg, younger brother of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who had created wheated flakes in 1894 for residents of his Battle Creek Sanitorium in Battle Creek, Mich. Kellogg spent $90,000 on advertising in 1906, including $4,000 for the Ladies' Home Journal ad.
Sales in 1906 skytocketed to 2,900 cases per day from just 33, according to Ad Age's Encyclopedia of Advertising. The company continued to believe in spending money to make money: It doubled its ad budget after the stock market crashed in 1929 and other advertisers slashed their spending. In 1940, its ad outlay surpassed $2.3 million, primarily on print ($1.5 million) but also on network radio ($860,000), where it supported series including "Buck Rogers," "Don Winslow of the Navy" and "Superman."
Some decades later, of course, $800,000 was enough to get the average advertiser a whopping 30 seconds of ad time alone during Super Bowl XXVI, not adjusting for inflation.
The spot concludes with a product shot, including the Cornelius the Rooster icon that Burnett created for Corn Flakes in 1957.
Breakfast cereal was never a big Super Bowl category, but it hasn't been unheard-of, either. Kellogg's rival General Mills scored a touchdown for Cheerios in 2014 ("Gracie"), for example, and featured Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan and Steve Young for Honey Frosted Wheaties in 1996 ("Time Out").Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.