See related content: Sesame Street promotion enthusiasm varies.
Sesame Street and the Produce Marketing Association are poised to help America’s children and millennial families “eat brighter!”
On March 31, a tool kit for guiding the royalty-free use of “Sesame Street” characters will be available, and produce promotions are expected to begin this summer with the back-to-school season, said Cathy Burns, president of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.
The Sesame Street campaign won’t exclude any fresh produce commodities and will offer an optional tier for companies that want to create a custom campaign with “Sesame Street” assets to differentiate fresh produce offerings from competitors, Burns said. The campaign will help drive consumption of fruits and vegetables among children 2-5 years old and millennial families, she said.
The theme, or tag line, for the campaign is to “eat brighter!” — matching the brightly colored characters with the high color of the produce department, said Sherrie Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Sesame Workshop,
Burns said the costs associated with the campaign will be nominal, with fees covering the creation of the marketing tool kit and administrative fees required to maintain the program. She wouldn’t speculate on the number of produce marketers that will sign up but said there has been interest in the program.
Westin said Sesame Workshop is encouraged by PMA’s enthusiasm for the partnership, which first lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for A Healthier America announced Oct. 31 at the White House.
“Our big hope is that retailers and growers come together for this initiative,” she said.
Key supporters believe the “Sesame Street” campaign will prime the pump of fresh fruit and vegetable demand, but questions remain how broad the appeal of the campaign will be.
The two-year agreement between PMA and Sesame Workshop, in effect through the end of 2016, allows produce growers, suppliers and retailers to use the Sesame Street characters and brand without a licensing fee.
“It seems to be a win-win for everyone, providing well-loved characters licensed for free for a good cause, which is to provide more fruits and vegetables to kids,” said Larry Soler, chief executive officer with the Washington, D.C. based Partnership for a Healthier America.
Since the October agreement, Burns said a PMA task force has developed a licensing agreement and an online tool kit to guide industry members in the use of “Sesame Street” characters in produce marketing. Burns, the PMA staff lead for the task force , said the tool kit is like a style guide that the industry will use after they go through the application process and sign the sublicensing agreement. “Sesame Street” assets can be used for promotional purposes in ads, on packs, in stores and across social media for a grower-shipper or a retailer, Burns said.
The top eight characters of the “Sesame Street” brand will available for fruit and vegetable promotion, Burns said.
In addition to what Burns called an “evergreen-type tier” — where “Sesame Street” characters are applied to a package or an ad 52 weeks a year, Burns said the task force is also building out thematic promotions. The first thematic promotion will be geared for back to school.
“Throughout the year, the tool kit will provide support — whether back to school, harvest, holiday or summer splash — where the creative will match the intention of the theme,” she said.
Another tier, with added cost, will allow a retailer and perhaps several grower-shippers to come together and do something on a custom basis, she said.
“Hopefully that access will result in really great execution and great ideas using ‘Sesame Street’ characters with very low-risk and downside and will demonstrate upside in the fact that marketing works,” said PMA “Sesame Street” task force chairman Todd Putman, chief marketing officer for Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif.
While Putman said the campaign won’t have the paid advertising punch of a Got Milk campaign that was funded with grower assessments, it will have the potential to be an effective national program with strong retailer support.
Putman was instrumental in creating the over arching message of “eat brighter!” that the whole industry can rally around, Burns said.
Soler said the Partnership for a Healthier America helps clarify the metrics that PMA and Sesame Workshop will use to judge the success of the project.