Detailed Historical Perspective

 
 
The Kellogg hot air balloon program was conceived and founded by Dennis Floden, aka Capt. Phogg. For over 20 years, his company, Capt. Phogg Enterprises has operated for the Kellogg Company, with offices located in Fenton, Michigan.

The first Kellogg balloon (N5731K) was a 77,000 cubic foot light blue balloon with the face of Tony the Tiger painted on opposite sides.  It was purchased in 1981 to serve as the centerpiece of Kellogg's sponsorship of the 1981 World Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Kellogg's purchased the envelope (balloon) and retained Capt. Phogg to provide the basket, burners, chase vehicle, and ancillary equipment as well as storage, administration and operational services.

When the World Hot Air Balloon Championships returned to Battle Creek in 1985, Kellogg's was prepared to make a statement about their sponsorship with the introduction of a 105,000 cubic foot special shaped balloon featuring the head of Tony the Tiger complete with 13' inflatable ears, a 25' inflatable nose and a 12' inflatable chin.  The balloon (N2795T) was unveiled to the thunderous roar of more than 100,000 people at Kellogg Airport to kick off the 1985 World Championships.

Prior to 1991, use of the Gr-r-reat Tony balloon averaged less than 39 flights a year, primarily for the Corporate Affairs Department.  Use of the balloon increased in 1991 when Regional Development tested ways to use the balloon to increase sales, increase Kellogg's name recognition and to build customer relationships.

A 25' Cold Air Inflatable Tony balloon replica was developed by Capt. Phogg to overcome the inherent weather dependency of the hot air balloon.  The results generated by the hot air and cold air balloons were positive and Regional Development made a commitment to the balloon program for 1992.  Corporate Affairs purchased a new Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon (N392GT) in 1992 and agreed to a three-year annual retainer for Capt. Phogg Enterprises, Ltd.

Bookings for the balloons as a sales tool grew steadily from 148 days in 1991 and 209 days in 1992 to 354 days in 1993.  The number of flights and hours logged on the hot air balloon per year almost tripled.

The Southern Zone purchased a block of 100 days for 1993.  When we were able to get approval from the FAA to fly the original Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon for another 50 hours before retiring it, an unexpected opportunity arose to satisfy almost all requests for the balloon in 1993 by having two balloon units available.

In 1994, with only one hot air balloon available, 200 days were booked.  In 1995, budget cuts reduced the program to 129 location days and 44 travel days for a total of 173 days booked.

In 1995, Special Market Development paid for a 25' Cold Air Show Balloon featuring all nine Kellogg characters painted in a thematic panorama around the balloon by Charlie Markert, the world famous artist who painted the Original Tony Balloon.  Additionally, they contracted for one hundred Show Balloon location days in 1995 and 1996.

The Frosted Flakes Brand became significantly involved in 1996 contracting for 30 days usage along with assuming a greater responsibility for the cost of the balloon program. In addition to a three-year commitment, a new balloon (N496GT) and a support vehicle were ordered. The total days booked for all the balloons were 205 distributed between 128 location days, 25 standby days and 52 travel days.

In 1997, the Frosted Flakes Brand continued their involvement contracting for an additional 13 days usage.  This brought the contracted days to 53, 11 allocated to Corporate Affairs and 42 allocated to the Brand.  With the addition of Gr-r-reat Tony Hot Air Balloon N496GT, and the completion of the Gr-r-reat Tony Support Cruiser, two complete balloon teams became fully operational.  Pilots Scott & Laurie Spencer operated in the Western United States, while Pilot Gary Moore and his wife Diana operated in the Central and Eastern United States.  Not only was it now possible to cover a greater portion of the United States, but travel charges to the sales force were reduced as well.

With the continued support of Frosted Flakes Brand Manager Greg Miller and the “standing marching orders” to put the program in front of the nations school children, the balloon program continued its growth with the development of a highly sought after school presentation. The addition of the school program, proved to be the hallmark of the 1998 Gr-r-r-eat Tony Balloon program.

Two full time and one part time balloon teams performed for a total of 321 days with 224 days on location, 29 stand-by and 69 travel days.  The Frosted Flake Brand contracted for 55 days and Corporate Affairs for 10.  Media response continued to be very high with more than $1,000,000 of exposure garnered by the balloon program.

1999 saw the Frosted Flakes Brand assume full ownership and control of The Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon program with the stated goal of "taking to the next level."  This was accomplished, in part, by subsidizing the daily rate by $200/day lowering the cost to the sales reps to $795/day. In addition, the brand underwrote the cost of all mileage charges for the year.

This support helped generate 261 days of bookings of which only 65 were prepaid by the brand.  Attendance at the various events where the balloon appeared, including school visits, exceeded 3.5 million.  Documented broadcast and print media exposure reached more than 12 million people with an equivalent advertising value in excess of $350,000.  The total value of documented and undocumented broadcast and print media coverage is estimated to exceed $1,000,000 and reached over 40,000,000 people.

1999 ended with the Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon’s participation in the historic Coca-Cola Countdown to 2000, viewed live on TV by 124,000,000 households in the United States and an additional estimated 178,000,000 households world wide.

The Twentieth Anniversary of The Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon program was celebrated in 2000 with a robust schedule of 374 location days, a new all-time high.  Three new balloons and one new support vehicle were added to the fleet.  A 200-day promotion promoting literacy was designed and implemented for Sam’s Club.

The Frosted Flakes Brand continued full ownership and control of the balloon program paying for the basic cost and all mileage charges.  Aside from the Sam's Club tour, the majority of the bookings, with funding at $995/day, came from Kellogg Sales Reps. The balloon programs continues to enhance the equity of the Tony the Tiger character as well as the equity of the balloon program itself.

The balloons are insured under the Kellogg Aviation policy.  The Frosted Flakes Brand pays an annual retainer to Capt. Phogg Enterprises.  This retainer covers the basic cost of 50 location and standby days, program administration and equipment maintenance and storage. When the balloons are booked beyond the basic contract amount, the cost is paid by the Kellogg entity that requests the balloon, such as the Sales Company.

January 1, 2001 saw the sale of the Capt. Phogg Kellogg Balloon Program to West Coast Gr-r-reat Tony Balloon pilot Scott Spencer. Scott's company, North American Balloon Group, Inc. has assumed operational responsibility for the program. Observers will see a dramatic change in the way business is conducted.

In 2001, the Balloon Team's sponsorship by the Frosted Flakes Brand was ended. The Team now operates under the authority of Kevin Smith, managed by Ed Bauman with help from David Lonsberry, Walmart Marketing Team and Kelly Wahl, Frosted Flaked Brand Manager.

 
 

This website and all original contents are Copyright 2007 by Scott L Spencer
and may not be used or reproduced without the permission of
Scott L Spencer and, or The Kellogg Company.
Tony The Tiger is a Registered Trade Mark of the Kellogg Company.