For broccoli, it’s not a popularity contest

11/22/2013 10:08:00 AM
Chris Koger

It’s the vegetable ad campaign that never was.

And yet it’s highly successful, in terms of starting online discussions, with bloggers and consumers passionately describing their love of this particular vegetable and posting recipes as well. Any commodity board would be jealous of the free publicity.

I’m talking about the broccoli campaign (http://tinyurl.com/broccoli-ad) cooked up by The New York Times and ad agency Victor & Spoils, made public in the Times in early November.

Victor & Spoils took on the challenge — how to make broccoli edgy and sexy — for free. The agency did everything from forming focus groups to generating slogans for (photoshopped) signs on billboards, bus stops, on the sides of buildings and grocery carts. It even conjured a fake trade association, the Broccoli Commission of America.

The core message focused on a vegetable that’s riding a wave of popularity with foodies, hipsters and chefs: kale.

Why not take on kale, Victor & Spoils asked.

Here are a few slogans the agency concocted:

u Broccoli: 43% less pretentious than kale;

u Since when do superfoods have to be super trendy?;

u What came first, kale or the bandwagon?; and

u Eat fad free: broccoli vs. kale.

This reminds me of the baby carrot slogan by Bolthouse Farms — Eat ’em like junk food — unveiled a few years ago with the audacious goal of a $25 million multi-year campaign that invited other companies to chip in and market baby carrots by using junk food ads/marketing tactics.

Jeffrey Dunn, a former president of Coca-Cola and now president and chief executive officer of Bolthouse, was present at the Victor & Spoils presentation on the ad campaign.

More recently, he joined Produce Marketing Association president Bryan Silbermann on stage during PMA’s Fresh Summit in New Orleans.

Dunn’s message, backed by Silbermann: pushing the health message alone will not boost consumption. A radical change, employing mainstream marketing messages, is needed. Humor always worked for me. How many ads get stuck in your head because they’re funny or silly?

In the early November Times article, Silbermann mentions a major opportunity for the industry (since then announced as the two-year “Sesame Street” agreement that allows produce shippers to use the Muppet characters to promote consumption).

Will this be the Holy Grail that PMA is predicting it to be? I have no doubt some companies will see sales pick up, but TV and movie characters have been used on everything from fresh-cut apples to onions (even broccoli has the Cruciferous Crusaders) and consumption of most fruits and vegetables has barely registered any increase.


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Colleen Grossner    
Cleveland, OH  |  November, 23, 2013 at 08:54 PM

Broccoli rocks and the more people that jump on the trendy bandwagon the better! Here is a quick recipe to try broccoli in a tasty and different way than you may have had before! http://fresh-you.blogspot.com/2013/11/1-minute-roasted-almond- and-broccoli.html

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