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Nature Valley Pro Bowl Ad Hinting at New Brand Strategy?

The Super Bowl’s a week away, but there was still football programming this past weekend. ESPN televised the 2018 Pro Bowl from Orlando, providing its best players and advertisers with one more shot to leave a lasting impression on the season.

Quite a few regular NFL advertisers came out for the Pro Bowl, but there were new ones as well. One of those was Nature Valley, which aired “Nature Gives” during the game. The spot, showcasing its Oats ‘N Honey crunchy granola bars, was the company’s first to air during a sporting event since January 1, 2017 — according to data from real-time TV ad analytics company iSpot.tv. The only other buys during sports programming since the start of last year were a few on fellow ESPN shows SportsCenter and First Take.

As shown in the chart above, January 2018 has also marked a concerted return to TV for Nature Valley, following a hiatus from mid-November through the early parts of this year. The company may also be adjusting its strategy around television ad targeting as well, based on the programs its spots have appeared during so far in 2018.

The Pro Bowl was its largest estimated investment in any singular TV program since the start of 2017, and the most focused on male viewers as well. Over 55% of Nature Valley’s advertisements have been targeted at female viewers in the time frame. Yet, the Pro Bowl audience skewed nearly 60% male. Many of Nature Valley’s other top programs for advertising — Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Today, among others — have female-focused audiences as well.

While Nature Valley has not publicly shared any sort of altered strategy in their target consumer, this Pro Bowl spot could be the start of a new approach for the brand. Other investments in 2018 haven’t necessarily followed suit with this change. But keeping an eye on where future ads start to appear could begin to showcase some new trends for the company and its ideal consumer going forward.