Celebrity ad campaign and ‘iconic’ branding of fruits and vegetables

Colin-Kaepernick

WASHINGTON — The Produce Marketing Association has approved $1 million to launch a new, celebrity-endorsed fruit and vegetable marketing blitz, called FNV, that will be tested in Fresno, CA, and Hampton Roads, VA, this spring.

Some details of the new venture were announced at today’s Partnership for a Healthier America 2015 Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, DC, followed by a PMA media teleconference to outline the new marketing campaign.Colin-KaepernickNFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick

“We will finally operate like a big, iconic brand,” said Cathy Burns, PMA president. This has “monumental possibilities” to change the conversation around fruits and vegetables, demand more consumption and support a healthier America, she said.

It received immediate endorsement from first lady Michelle Obama, who spoke at the summit at the fifth anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign.

“That campaign is going to be amazing. It’s exciting. It’s fresh. It’s clever,” she said, referring to FNV. “If folks are going to pour money into marketing unhealthy foods, then let’s fight back with ads for healthy foods, right?”

The campaign was officially kicked off at the PHA summit with a video with celebrities such as Kristen Bell, Nick Jonas, Victor Cruz, Jessica Alba and other sports stars.

Research shows children are highly influenced by celebrity endorsements, explained Andrew Nathan, chief marketing officer for Victors & Spoils, an advertising agency, in the call to reporters. FNV is “super hero meets sports brand” that can appeal to teens, he said.

On Thursday, marketers launched the website and social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Nathan said the campaign intends to allow for consumer-generated ads with kids and parents who can use their name and age and type of fruit or vegetable they want to endorse. The marketing plan includes a signature line, such as limited edition of a certain vegetable or fruit with a celebrity name, an apparel line, local sponsorship of youth sports and teams and other traditional ways to use the logo.

PHA has already worked with PMA on the eat brighter! marketing campaign that allows U.S. retailers and suppliers to use the Sesame Street characters without licensing fees for two years.

The new campaign uses real-life characters to build a brand with humor and a nod to the intelligence of the consumer, according to PHA’s Ryan Shadrick-Wilson, chief strategy officer and general counsel. “We’re trying to make vegetables hip and cool.”

Wilson said it was contracting with Neilsen to gather data from the first two test markets in California and Virginia before a national rollout. PHA said a robust research plan will accompany FNV, measuring sales of fresh, frozen, canned and dried in the lead markets and awareness, recall and resonance testing.

Kevin Fiori, chair of PMA’s board of directors and vice president of sales and marketing for Sunkist Growers, said the board unanimously agreed to contribute $1 million for the initiative.

He noted FNV is a complementary campaign to eat brighter!, which targets a different audience but the same goal of increasing consumption.

Burns said FNV applies to retailer and foodservice operators, and in the two lead markets PMA hopes both will take this opportunity and apply it. PMA will have a marketing task force to help guide implementation with expectations to have participation from retail and foodservice segments.

In a separate statement, Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, praised the new campaign to boost fruit and vegetable consumption with celebrity endorsements.

“For too long, entertainers and athletes have used their clout to promote soda and other junk foods, so perhaps the FNV campaign heralds a new trend,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

“For this campaign to succeed, it will need a huge and sustained investment behind it, which I hope the industry provides,” he said. “Ideally government agencies would invest in similar media campaigns aimed at reducing junk food consumption and promoting healthy diets.”

First lady stars with Big Bird and Billy Eichner in ‘eat brighter!’ video

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First lady Michele Obama, Sesame Street’s Big Bird and comedian Billy Eichner of Billy on the Street star in a Funny or Die video released this morning touting the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the Produce Marketing Association’s ‘eat brighter!’ campaign.

PMA President Cathy Burns told The Produce News that the 12-minute video had been viewed more than 16,000 times in the first few hours after its release. In the video, Eichner, who stars in NBC’s "Parks and Recreation" show and on FunnyOrDie.com, acts as a game show host with the first lady, Big Bird and another contestant. He quizzes the group about various fun facts with a Washington, DC, Safeway produce department serving as the set and an ‘eat brighter!’ poster prominently displayed.16534003916 2476febfd1 oFirst lady Michelle Obama participates in a 'Let's Move!' Funny or Die game show taping with Billy Eichner of 'Billy on the Street,' and Big Bird at Safeway in Washington, DC. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon) Following the in-store action, Eichner takes his “Billy on the Street" shtick outdoors and serves as a roving reporter asking people such questions as, “Miss, would your child prefer strawberries with Elmo’s face or strawberries with JK Simmons’ face?”

The video is designed to highlight the ‘eat brighter!’ campaign, which is an effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption bringing together produce industry products, Sesame Street characters and the Partnership for a Healthier America, which was inspired by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move project.  

Burns said this latest video is designed to reach the millennials, who are young parents with kids in the next generation. Eichner is very popular with that group and has more than 2 million followers of his various social media interactions.

Burns and PMA’s Meg Miller worked with Eichner and the first lady on the execution of the video, though the PMA president said the creative aspect was all Eichner. The first lady, she said, is committed to the effort and was very willing to lend her star power to the video.

“We’re so thrilled to see this unique movement gain support from the industry, and even happier to see their hard work and commitment gain attention from people like the first lady and Billy Eichner,” said Burns. “Our industry has a great responsibility to positively impact eating habits for kids and their families. I firmly believe we’re on that path, making great strides through the creative marketing that the ‘eat brighter!’ initiative brings.”

Burns said the “eat brighter!” movement now has about 50 produce industry companies representing 100 commodities taking part. The campaign allows produce industry companies to use the Sesame Street characters on their packaging and in their marketing campaigns free of charge. The campaign was announced in late 2013 and launched just about a year ago. Burns said it gained momentum in the fall of 2014 and in this first quarter of 2015 many companies are beginning to roll out their participation.

She said PMA is happy about the level of participation and understands it takes time for companies to adopt the program and adjust their marketing efforts. “We are in it for the long term,” she said, noting that the ultimate goal is to change the eating habits of the next generation.

In a PMA press release announcing the release of the video, Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop, said, “At Sesame Street, we’re committed to helping children grow up smarter, stronger, and kinder, and an important part of being stronger is being healthy. We’re proud to be working with PMA and PHA on the ‘eat brighter!’ initiative, and what better way to show kids that eating fruits and vegetables is not only healthy but fun than with Billy Eichner, the first lady and Big Bird!”

PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler added, “Making fruits and vegetables something kids want to eat and parents want to serve is a goal of PHA’s and also of the ‘eat brighter!’ effort. Collaborations like this help ensure messages about fruits and vegetables are heard by kids and adults alike, and make fruits and veggies more exciting and fun for everyone.” 

Burns said PMA is using this video to attract more produce participants to the “eat brighter!” campaign. She said the association did send an email letter to all of its members today promoting the video and asking them to re-post it through their own social media interactions. She said early adopters of the Sesame Street connection should get a marketing boost as this video gains viewers across the country.

New Products Showcase: Stemilt Fresh Blenders provide convenience to consumers

Stemilt

A healthy, nutritious breakfast is just a fingertip away with Stemilt Growers’ new “Fresh Blenders” line of apples. “It became quite evident to us through consumer research and engagement that people were using apples in their juicers and blenders at home as a way to get more servings of fruits and vegetables,” said Roger Pepperl, director of marketing.

StemiltStemilt Growers has taken convenience to the next level with the introduction of its new ‘Fresh Blenders’ line of apples. Conveniently packed in five-pound bags, consumers can easily incorporate fresh apples into their juices and smoothies. (Photo courtesy of Stemilt Growers LLC)“Smoothies are breakfast in many homes," Pepperl said. "Understanding that consumers want convenience, we thought Fresh Blenders would be the perfect item to provide them with a grab-and-go bag of apples that are meant for juicing/smoothies. It’s a value item that directly markets to that growing crowd and brings excitement to produce merchandising.”

Stemilt is one of Washington’s premiere tree fruit growers, headquartered in Wenatchee, WA.

Product packaging simplifies the process. “Fresh Blenders are all about convenience and making the blending/juicing process easy,” Pepperl added.

“The package tells the shopper what the product is intended for, provides them with a recipe to try, and tips on how to prep an apple for the blender,” he continued.

“It’s a perfect item for both the newbie and seasoned blender/juicer. The grab-and-go and stand-up style of the bag makes it easy to find in the refrigerator, and the five-pound size of the bag provides enough apples for a week’s worth of smoothies.”

Fresh Blenders ship in a display-ready carton, thereby providing retailers with easy, convenient merchandising. “We recommend that they are merchandised in a high-traffic area to appeal to impulse purchases,” Pepperl stated.

“They make great secondary displays to the main apple table and are an ideal fit in any ‘juicing or blending destination’ in the produce department that would include other popular juicing/blending vegetables like kale, carrots, celery and more.”

AFM Super Bowl ad airs during big game

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Avocados from Mexico became the first fresh produce brand to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1 during the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

The 60-second spot, called The Very First Draft, aired at the end of the first quarter of the game and is a creative look back at what the very first draft might have been at the beginning of time.

In the draft, where such plants and animals as wheat, the do-do bird and the sloth are chosen by the United States, Mauritius and Brazil, Mexico manages to grab the avocado, much to the praise of draft commentators and former NFL stars Doug Flutie and Jerry Rice.

Avocados from Mexico will support the ad with seven online videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Alvaro Luque, president of Avocados from Mexico, said that the organization is “proud to be the first produce supplier to have an advertisement featured during the most popular event of the year."

Commitment to quality, innovation drives Potandon

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Potandon Produce LLC, headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, has carefully crafted a business model that can be summarized this way: Excellence beyond expectation.

Senior Vice President of Sales Dick Thomas said that attention to the smallest detail gives the company its competitive edge.

“We're dedicated to quality in every respect,” he told The Produce News, adding that the approach includes outstanding customer service, a diverse supply base, innovative approaches to marketing and partnering with customers to drive value to customers.

In addition to potatoes, Potandon Produce also grows and markets a vast array of white, yellow, red and sweet onions. Commodities are moved under Potandon's corporate labels, and Potandon continues to partner with Green Giant Fresh in moving potatoes and onions under that brand's banner.

Potandon's line of value-added products enables consumers to incorporate healthful potatoes into their meal planning with a minimum of fuss. Thomas said the line includes “Klondike Express,” “Green Giant Fresh Mini” and its “Steamer” potatoes.

“This year, we've introduced two new items to the Klondike line,” he went on to say. The new additions are Klondike Royale and Klondike Smiley.

Innovation literally starts from the ground up. Potandon has a vertically integrated seed development and production company that continually looks for seed strains around the world to narrow down potential candidates for production in Potandon's domestic growing regions. Though many strains are evaluated over a period of years, the company hones its short list to ensure only the best strains are cultivated to produce the highest quality product possible.

A leader in the field of quality control and food safety, all of the company's packing facilities are food safety approved by any one of multiple auditing companies and schemes including the American Institute of Baking, Primus and GFSI among others. Annual inspections ensure that these facilities comply with the most stringent food safety regulations.