Corporate Eye

Kellogg’s Sustainability Might Produce Results

Everyone, but everyone, remembers Victor Kiam.  “I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company”.  You don’t get that kind of personal endorsement from many CEOs.

Another business owner who literally branded his product himself was WK Kellogg.  As early as 1903, he personally signed every box of Corn Flakes produced as a guarantee of quality.

He also pioneered a number of areas to promote healthy lifestyles, including endorsing minimal sugar and meat consumption and plenty of exercise.

From such an auspicious start it was disappointing to read that Ethical Corporation has criticised the company’s first, Corporate Responsibility report as “missing snap crackle and pop”.

So I thought I’d take a look at the company’s website offering to see if this mirrored the criticisms of the sustainability report.

Kellogg’s: No front door but nice decor

As always, the first thing I looked for was how to get to the company’s sustainability section from their homepage.  This wasn’t immediately obvious but finally I spotted a small “View our responsibility report” link.

This navigates to a well presented page intended to be an introduction to the company’s PDF report.  However, it’s a much better homepage for the overall sustainability section than the real one, which is little more than a collection of links.

The layout of the sustainability section is very pleasing on the eye as well.  A simply five section menu bar across the top with menus in the left margin and illustrative content in the right.

The use of colours is nicely balanced as well.  Menu items and text are in grey and black on a white background, while headings and pictures add the splash of colour.

Kellogg’s : So nearly seamless

Next I went in search of Environment content.  Clicking on a “more information” link caused me to jump rather unexpectedly from one section of the website to another.

Nothing particularly wrong in that, but the style sheet changed at the same time.  This is a cardinal sin in website design when done without warning and it was a few moments before I realised I hadn’t be transported to a completely different website.

Eventually, I discovered this major Environment content I’d found my way to is part of the site’s “What’s On” section.  However, there is no mention of the environment on the “All of what’s on” page, despite is obviously being a major set of content.

Inspired by this experience I next in search of other content which, while broadly sustainable, wasn’t obviously promoted as part of Kellogg’s sustainability offering.

There‘s a surprising amount, a whole section on health to start with.  Food manufacturers are always in the unenviable position of being able to trumpet the direct effect they have upon their clients’ health.

Yet despite having a whole section devoted to Health and another reserved for Health Care Professionals, these are not referenced or linked to from the Kellogg’s sustainability section.

Kellogg’s : Could the sun dawn on something better?

The final feeling is that Kellogg’s have a patchwork approach to their website content.  There is good stuff out there, but they’ve not managed to stitch it all together into a coherent whole.

This leaves a feeling that the website is inconsistent in the message it’s delivering, leading to the conclusion that the content wranglers don’t quite understand what they’re trying to achieve.  However there is the glimmer of something new happening on the horizon.

Kellogg’s first Corporate Responsibility Report, criticised for “lacking Snap Crackle and Pop”, has figures in it about the waste and water use and a section devoted to the sugary-cereal issue of obesity.

This is good stuff.  The report, like the website, is long on intention and short on fact.  But the desire to publish figures and tackle controversial issues shows that Kellogg’s, while initially sluggish, may eventually tackle sustainability in a proper and co-ordinated way.

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A former CTO, Chris has a broad and varied background. He’s been involved with blue chips, consultancies & SMEs across a wide variety of sectors and has worked in Europe, the Middle East and Australia. In 2007 he decided to combine his knowledge of business and IT with his passion for all things sustainable and has been busy writing ever since. However, his greatest ambition remains to brew the perfect cup of coffee.