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Will new leadership lead to more responsible marketing at Kellogg?

Three years after taking over as CEO of cereal giant Kellogg, David Mackay is planning to vacate the company’s top spot at the end of the year. The new CEO will be John Bryant, the company’s chief operating officer.

This news caught my eye—not because I know much about Mackay (or his replacement, for that matter), but rather because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Kellogg’s recent missteps on the marketing front. As we reported last week, Kellogg suffered yet another legal smack down over the hyperbolic claims made for its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. The company has suffered other legal and regulatory defeats related to  unsubstantiated label claims for its cereals since Mackay took over in 2006.

Although he may not have personally green lighted Kellogg’s use of these health claims, he failed to nix them—which isn’t surprising given the lukewarm demand the company has seen for its cereals in recent years. Apparently slapping a large “now boosts your child’s immunity” banner on its Rice Krispies cereal box in the midst of the H1N1 scare seemed like a risk worth taking if it might possibly mean a boost in sales. Such moves dull the shine of other, smarter decisions, such as working to boost the fiber and other nutritional content of your company’s products—which Mackay also accomplished during his three year tenure at Kellogg.

After Bryant takes over the food giant in the new year, the plan is for Kellogg to regain its lost market share through new product development. "Innovation really does drive the category," Bryant told the Wall Street Journal. Let’s just hope that “innovation” includes the rollout of new healthier products and not new, innovative ways to dupe consumers.

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