Fruits and Vegetables: Ready for a Marketing Makeover

Written by Katie Vann

kale

You’re probably familiar with the highly-marketed slogans “Got Milk?” and “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner”? That’s because every year, federal farm “Checkoff” programs spend more than $500 million to advertise and promote meat, dairy, and eggs to the American public.

Yet, there’s nothing really comparable for promoting fruits and vegetables. Which begs the question that the New York Times recently explored: what would happen if broccoli received a big-budget marketing makeover?

The Times reached out to ad agency Victors & Spoils, which has worked for many big names in the food industry, and asked them to create a campaign aimed at promoting and selling broccoli.

One of the first steps is market research: examining what people currently think about this cruciferous vegetable and its appeal — or lack thereof.  Lacking in attractive packaging, a long shelf life, and a “grab-and-go portability,” the promotion of vegetables typically hinge on highlighting their many healthy attributes. But, can health benefits override the millions of dollars of advertising by the meat, dairy, and junk food industries?

The Produce Marketing Association’s president and chief executive Bryan Silbermann thinks marketing can and should extend beyond the health benefits: “We haven’t spent nearly enough time in the produce industry adopting those techniques and thinking about what really motivates people.”

So what did Victor & Spoils come up with? One idea is to embrace the “negatives” of broccoli, as in, finding something cool about not being cool. Or possibly pit broccoli against kale, similar to the successful marketing efforts that relied upon the long-held rivalry between two major soda companies — Pepsi and Coke. Both companies benefited from the attention. Another idea is reframing broccoli’s image by referring to it as “the meat of any salad.”

Can you think up better ways to market vegetables? The New York Times is seeking your ideas that could make healthy foods hip — how would you market peas, cauliflower, beets, cabbage or turnips? If your idea is inspiring enough, it could turn into a real campaign!

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