One of the early adopters of the Sesame Workshop-Produce Marketing Association ‘Eat Brighter!’ campaign says the first weeks of using the characters on fresh-cut fruit and vegetable packages have been a success.
Speaking at a National Grocers Association Web seminar about the campaign July 9, Ross Foca, president of East Coast Fresh, Savage, Md., said the company has been shipping fresh-cut fruits and vegetables branded with Sesame Street characters on labels for about a month.
The campaign, offering royalty-free use of Sesame characters through the end of 2016, was launched Oct. 30 last year; a campaign toolkit describing the guidelines for using the characters was by industry was made available May 31.
The opportunity to use the ‘Eat Brighter!’ campaign fit the company’s marketing philosophy and allowed a nationally recognized marketing footprint, Foca of East Coast Fresh said. “So far it has been received 100% by all of our retailers carrying our brand,” he said. “We’ve had quite a bit of excitement around it as it is hitting the shelves.”
Private-label packs for retailers have not employed the Sesame characters, as retailers first must work through the marketing and legal channels of the license agreement before they can use the campaign for their private label goods, he said.
The company puts the Sesame characters on packs that appeal to kids, such as fresh-cut watermelon, fresh-cut pineapple, celery sticks and carrots. The company distributes the Sesame-branded fresh-cut items to retailers in the Mid-Atlantic, with plan to market the program to schools this fall, he said.
“I think (the campaign) is good for the industry, good for us and good for retailers,” he said. “Everyone benefits from it.”
Retailers can stock Sesame-branded product from their suppliers without paying a fee; retailers do pay an administrative fee if they advertise the characters within their departments and put Sesame characters on their own private-label produce, Foca said.
He said one of his retail customers is working on joining the program and he believes other retail customers are considering.
“The issue is awareness and getting it out there,” he said. “I imagine once a few larger companies jump in, others will follow behind,” he said.
In a question-and-answer session after the Web seminar, PMA president Cathy Burns answered a question from one of the participants about why she thought more supermarkets have not signed up yet for the campaign.
Burns said there have been many ongoing conversations with regional, independent, and national retailers about the campaign. As a former retail executive with Food Lion, she said she understands it takes time to get the necessary approvals within the corporation.
“I know what it takes to take a (campaign) like this and integrate it to your go to market strategy,” she said.
Getting retail executives responsible for both marketing and merchandising on the same call at the same time is one challenge, she said.
“The number of retailers that have signed up right now is not indicative of the amount of activity that is happening,” she said.
Burns said she expects a huge uptick in activity with the campaign in the August/September period tied to back to school promotions. Sesame Workshop will be release a back to school theme signage that can be used by retailers for no extra charge for those signed up for the program, she said.
According to the PMA, companies joining the campaign, through July 7, include:
- Bolthouse Farms;
- Coast Citrus Distributors;
- Domex Superfresh Growers;
- East Coast Fresh;
- Fowler Farms;
- Giumarra Cos.;
- Mars Super Markets Inc.;
- Naturipe Farms;
- Neiman’s Family Market;
- Peak of the Market;
- Pioneer Growers Cooperative;
- Progressive Produce;
- Schnuck Markets Inc.;
- Sunlight International Sales; and
- The Oppenheimer Group.