It's going to be a g-r-reat year: Kellogg’s encourages conversation on mental health and celebrates Tony’s 70th with Year of the Tiger commemoration

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

It's going to be a g-r-reat year: Kellogg’s encourages conversation on mental health and celebrates Tony’s 70th with Year of the Tiger commemoration

Related tags Kellogg company Frosted Flakes Tony the Tiger Lunar New Year Mental health workplace diversity and inclusion Verizon Media Mental Health First Aid seasonal affective disorder

The Battle Creek, Michigan-headquartered breakfast giant is taking steps to break the stigma and prioritise employees’ mental health, while its Canadian arm is marking the double celebratory year with limited edition Frosted Flakes packaging.

2022 under the Asian Lunar New Year is the year of the tiger, which represents strength, courage, bravery, luck and a guardian of the home. The year also sees popular Kellogg’s mascot Tony the Tiger turn 70. So, it makes sense for the breakfast giant to make the most of the joint celebration.

Rolling out in stores across Canada, the celebratory cereal box honours those born under the tiger sign who are known for being active and adventurous, just like Tony.

The blue and orange packaging features New Year greetings in Traditional Chinese. Blue stands for healing, trust and a long life, paired with Tony’s signature orange, for wealth and fortune. Tony appears on the back panel holding a bright red envelope – known as hóngbāo – ​a customary gift given at Lunar New Year that symbolises good wishes and luck for the year ahead.

Celebrating different stripes

“The creation of this special edition box of Frosted Flakes cereal exemplifies our commitment to celebrating the cultural traditions of our diverse employees and consumers across Canada,”​ said Christine Jakovcic, VP, Marketing & Nutrition, Kellogg Canada Inc.

“In fact, we engaged our ED&I employee resource group to help design this limited edition pack commemorating the Lunar New Year and Tony's birthday.”

In the same vein, the US-headquartered Frosted Flakes maker is sending out a strong message that people are its heart and soul.

In Social K (Kellogg’s blog), Wilson Ray, senior director of Retail Operations, shared why it’s important for the company to address the ‘winter blues’.

An estimated 10 million Americans – the greater number being women and young people – find their mood becomes more subdued during the darker, colder months. Seasonal affective disorder is officially recognised in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a form of depression also known as SAD, seasonal depression or winter depression.

“There’s the inevitable post-holiday letdown. There's less sunlight – especially in the Upper Midwest snowbelt. And, of course, there are all the challenges we face with COVID right now,”​ said Ray.

“On top of that, some people are dealing with personal tragedies. I've had my share. My daughter battles Borderline Personality Disorder and attempted suicide at one point. I lost a nephew to suicide. And I was reeling after my mother’s death in 2020.

“That was a lot to handle while also coming to work every day and trying to excel at my job.

“Trouble is, talking about these things at work has traditionally been taboo … many people are afraid to admit they need help. There’s a stigma.”

Addressing the stigma

In 2021, Kellogg’s forged a partnership with Verizon Media as a founding member of Mind Together. The coalition was formed to improve the overall workplace culture around mental health and to set a new standard in how employees are supported.

The company has also improved employee access to mental health care benefits and doubled the number of visits to mental health practitioners covered.

It recently created Lean on Me, its own brand of a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is an internationally recognised course, designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis.

“The training provides participants the skills needed to offer initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care,”​ said Ray.

Enabling employees

Additionally, Kapable – Kellogg’s disability-related Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) – has launched Winter Blues, aimed to make employees feel more comfortable in talking about SAD and other mental and emotional troubles that arise this time of year.

According to Ray, Kapable is the company’s fastest-growing BERG, enabling the team to influence the work environment, and providing input on business initiatives and programmes.

“Our Kapable team will share some tips for getting through it (exercise, making time with a friend, starting a new hobby, for example) and then ask colleagues to share how they beat the winter blues.

“It may seem basic, but simply acknowledging the Winter Blues are a thing and talking about them is huge.

“People are Kellogg’s heart and soul, and while the company still has work to do – as we all do – it’s committed to continuing to find ways to support employees’ mental health,” ​said Ray.

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