Parents have known from time immemorial that fruits and vegetables are good for their children and that everyone should eat more of them. Now, they’re getting more help in their quest than ever before from the federal government, celebrities and Madison Avenue.
The Partnership for a Healthier America, founded in 2010 in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, has formed an unprecedented coalition of better-for-you consumer-packaged-goods companies, trade groups, nonprofits, sports stars and actors to fund a new “brand” called FNV (Fruits and Veggies) that will promote produce consumption with a star-studded, multi-million-dollar ad campaign.
“It’s a neat thing for fresh fruits and vegetables,” Brian Wansink, a prominent expert on the psychology of eating and head of the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University, told Sustainable Brands. “To take them from just a group of commodities to something that together possibly can have a personality is good because it creates some more stickiness in kids’ minds for fruits and vegetables.”
The public-service push behind FNV involves celebrity moms (Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell), athletes (Steph Curry, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Victor Cruz), singers (Nick Jonas) and others, even including WWE wrestler John Cena. Brands represented include Bolthouse Farms, the fresh-veggie powerhouse acquired by Campbell Soup a couple of years ago, and Avocados From Mexico, coming off its first Super Bowl ad.
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The methods already unveiled include ads in a bus shelter featuring Bell (“Kids might love their moms, but they listen to celebrities”), an ad for beets featuring Alba, Newton mugging with carrots, and Cruz with a handful of tomatoes.
“FNV was inspired by big consumer brands, whose tactics are relentless, compelling, catchy and drive an emotional connection with their products,” Lawrence Soler, CEO of the Partnership, said in a statement. “We want to do the same thing for fruit and veggies, which have never had an opportunity to act like a big brand. Until now.”
If the recent success of brands such as GoGo Squeez and Plum Organics — whose squeezable, pouch-based fruit-and-vegetable concoctions have helped get our younger generation to lean toward produce — is any indication, there is reason for hope that kids’ consumption of fruits and veggies actually could increase. Add the persuasive power of celebrity endorsements and FNV could actually be effective in turning that corner.