Feed The Fire Inside

Feed The Fire Inside


Quaker Oats is a venerable brand with a great breakfast heritage. That’s its asset – but also its problem. Porridge is a healthy breakfast, but not a glamorous or very modern one, and when you think of who buys the oats category you’re probably thinking of the less youthful and innovative end of the market.

That’s somewhat deceptive – the trend towards plant-based eating and dairy alternatives means oats are having “a moment” as a healthy superfood. But it points to the tricky problem facing Quaker Oats and their creative agency Uncommon. You want to modernise the brand and give it a proud niche in 2021’s breakfast market. But anything too overtly modern would easily cross the line into cringe. This is no time for a porridge rap.

What the brand has done is walked a thin and careful line, creating an ad, “The Fire Within”, which feels classy and contemporary rather than trying to be cool. The ad is cleverly constructed, with a halfway reveal that works very well at boosting positive emotion. We see a young man getting up, eating his Quaker Oats, and heading to the gym for some boxing. He looks strong, determined, staring out at us unsmiling (as we know from Orlando Wood’s new book Look Out, this stare is often a warning sign of an overly left-brained ad). The visual grammar of the ad is like dozens of other sports ads – lots of sweat and effort and a bit of macho bonding.

But then the ad flips direction. The guy’s morning workout is just that, a morning workout. He’s not a boxer, he’s a teacher, and for the rest of the ad we see him smiling, encouraging, and inspiring a roomful of kids. Left-brained stares to camera are replaced with right-brained gestures, smiles and laughter. Viewer happiness jumps up and the small amount of negative emotion dies away.

The point of the ad is that Quaker Oats is fuel, but what it fuels isn’t just your body. This is not some kind of functional, protein-shake style food for fitness freaks. This is positive energy you can take into your whole day.

That positive energy carries over to the emotional response. The Quaker Oats ad scores the Treble – Exceptional ratings on long-term Star Rating, short term Spike rating, and Brand Fluency. Any worry that a more modern approach might lead to the brand getting lost can be quickly forgotten and “The Fire Inside” scores the maximum 5-Stars. It’s a great example of a brand making an ad which feels very 2021 while still respecting Quaker’s rich heritage.