For almost a century now, Kellogg’s has been the #1 brand when it comes to typical morning breakfast options, especially in the West.

But it wasn’t always like this. Back in the 1920s, Kellogg’s was one of the many brands competing for some space in the bowl of the consumers, and truth be told, it wasn’t doing well.

Things got worse when the recession hit. Or, they should have.

You see, the major companies back then adopted a herd mentality, of sorts. They looked at the other competitor cutting their marketing budget and thought to themselves, “if they are doing it, we should too. This is super obvious.”

The logic made sense. In hard times, especially an economic crunch, common sense suggests to preserve what you have. R&D and advertising can wait.

However, the founder of Kellogg’s, Will Keith Kellogg, took a counter-intuitive decision. Instead of copying the bigger brands and cutting costs, he saw a gap being created. Gaps create opportunities.

Kellogg did something irrational.

He doubled up the advertising budget and went all out – in the middle of a major recession.

He looked deep into the crisis and realized that, no matter what, people still needed to eat and the breakfast for choice, as it has been ever since, for Americans was “flakes and milk”.

His advisors, accountants, and countless analysts asked him to make cuts. But his ability to see things with clarity and find the gap in the market is what differentiated him as a creative thinker, rather than just another CEO.

He realized that he may never again have this competitive advantage. He realized that, for Kellogg’s, this will be the perfect and the ‘easiest’ time to stand out from the competition, since the competition was standing still.

As the founders of HP, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, once said…

The biggest competitive advantage is to do the right thing at the worst time.

And that’s exactly what took Kellogg’s from being just another company to the market leader for almost a century.

What’s your take on this story? Does it inspire you or do you think this won’t work anymore? We’d love to hear in the comments section below.

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