NEW YORK — What
if cauliflower got the same type of marketing firepower as candy
bars and potato chips?
A campaign being
launched Thursday plans to put that premise to the test by
enlisting celebrities including actress Jessica Alba and Golden
State Warriors Point Guard Stephen Curry to shill for fruits and
The campaign will
be announced by the Partnership for a Healthier America, which
works with private companies and was created in conjunction with
first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to get families
to eat better and exercise. The push is being called "FNV,"
which is intended to be a hipper way to refer to "fruits and
inspired by the big brands and, can we do what they're able to
do?" said Lawrence Soler, CEO of the Partnership for a
To start, the
campaign will primarily be on social media networks like Twitter,
where short videos featuring Alba and NFL quarterbacks Colin
Kaepernick and Cam Newton will be posted. Additional videos will
be released in coming days starring Curry, New York Giant Victor
Cruz, actress Kristen Bell and others.
To give a hint of
what's to come, a teaser video for the broader campaign will also
be posted on FNV's website Thursday. The spot features stars with
fruits and vegetables and is set to catchy music, with the words
"PREPARE TO BE MARKETED TO" flashing on the screen near
the end. Around spring, a full marketing push including TV and
print ads is slated to hit two markets — Fresno, California, and
Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Over time, Soler
said the idea is to expand the campaign more broadly, although
plans haven't been pinned down.
The campaign for
FNV was created by the ad agency Victors & Spoils, which lists
clients including Coca-Cola and General Mills on its website. The
agency got involved after being asked to cook up a similar
campaign for broccoli in 2013 for a New York Times story by
Michael Moss, author of "Salt, Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants
chief marketing officer for Victors & Spoils, which is based
in Boulder, Colorado, and has 49 employees, noted that fruits and
vegetables are already attractive subjects with vibrant colors and
interesting flavors. The only thing they lack is the
"marketing pixie dust" that makes packaged foods so
irresistible, he said.
our inspiration for all this was behaving like a big, iconic
brand," Nathan said, citing Nike and Apple as examples.
providing financial and other support for FNV are Bolthouse Farms,
which makes premium juices and bagged carrots and is owned by
Campbell Soup, and the Produce Marketing Association, a trade
group whose members include Sunkist, Chiquita, Dole, Wal-Mart and
Chick-fil-A. Other supporters include the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation and Alba's Honest Company, which makes baby and home
details, the Partnership for a Healthier America said FNV is
already a "multimillion-dollar" campaign and will
continue raising funds. Still, it's up against the considerable
resources of big food marketers.
For the first
nine months of last year, for example, McDonald's Corp. spent
$587.6 million on TV advertising in the U.S. alone, according to
Kantar Media. Coca-Cola Co. spent $265.2 million.
executive director of the Center for Science in the Public
Interest in Washington, D.C., said an advertising campaign for
fruits and vegetables could be powerful in influencing eating
decisions, but that its effectiveness would depend on how much
support it gets and how persistent it is.
"A lot of
money for one day won't do anything," he said.
In the past,
Jacobson noted that the Center for Science in the Public Interest
ran a campaign in targeted markets encouraging people to pick
low-fat or skim milk instead of regular. The push for fruits and
vegetables will be far tougher, he said, because it's trying to
convince people to make an entirely different choice — an apple,
say, instead of a bag of Fritos.