Courtesy Pear Bureau NorthwestAn actor portraying Sportacus, a character from the children’s television show LazyTown, rouses children to get active at a school appearance in New Haven, Conn. Sportacus often eats an apple or a pear for energy on the show. After school assemblies, each student gets a pear.LazyTown, the award-winning television series on Sprout TV aimed at teaching young children about healthy eating choices and the importance of staying active, is becoming a popular produce promotion partner.
“The LazyTown brand was created as a way to empower kids to want to choose healthy lifestyle programs for themselves. It’s designed to motivate kids to make healthy lifestyle choices,” said Jay Whitney, vice president of strategic brand partnerships for LazyTown Entertainment, Phoenix.
The show is now in its third season in the U.S., is an important part of the Produce for Kids’ partnership with Sprout TV, according to Amanda Keefer, manager of public relations and social media.
Characters on the show rely on “sports candy,” a nickname for fresh fruit used by the show, for energy and nutrients, making it a good fit in helping to market produce to kids.
Because of the show’s popularity, and its emphasis on eating healthfully and staying active, Produce for Kids often sponsors in-store appearances with the characters.
“It’s usually a three-hour appearance, and we do a lot of promotion prior to it to encourage families to come to the store so they can meet the characters and learn about the importance of healthy eating,” Keefer said.
The organization also uses LazyTown for in-store signs and displays.
Whitney says the partnership between the show and fresh fruit and vegetables is powerful.
“We get thousands of e-mails from parents who say how their kids are eating more ‘sports candy’ and how easy it is now that they have us as a third-party validator,” he said.
One important aspect is that the characters on the show are only associated with healthy eating.
It can be confusing to see characters on bags of candy as well as bags of carrots, Whitney said.
“It’s a very authentic association for us,” he said.
Whitney also says it’s important the show’s role models are live human beings.
“It brings it to life so much more than a cartoon character,” he said.
The Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest has also joined with LazyTown to promote pears to kids.
“This is our second year working with them, thanks to funding from a specialty crop block grant,” director of communications Cristie Mather said.
The theme of the promotion is “Good Things Come in Pears,” which follows the theme of Sportacus, the main character of the show, who often eats an apple or a pear as a source of energy on the show.
“When kids see the LazyTown characters with pears, it resonates that it’s an item that is healthy to eat and that will keep them feeling great,” Mather said.
The promotion includes floor decals, wobblers, recipes and a website, as well as in-store and in-school character appearances.
“These events are really fun, and a lot of kids come dressed as their favorite characters,” Mather said.
Sportacus gets the children active, sometimes doing jumping jacks or other activities, so the events are held in a location where people can gather.
At the school assemblies, each child is given a pear after the show.
“We have back to school-aimed point-of-sale materials, and recipes for items such as pear salsa,” Mather said.
Buddy Fruits, U.K.
LazyTown also is working with Coral Gables, Fla.-based Ouhlala Gourmet Corp., which markets the Buddy Fruits brand, and is developing a nationwide campaign with them.
Whitney says the show is really ramping up in the U.S., and that the show has been instrumental in increasing the fruit and vegetable sales in other countries where the brand is more established.
“In the United Kingdom, we saw an increase of 40% in sales for Great Stuff, a private-label produce brand for kids. It’s been a remarkable increase,” he said.