One-way ‘Street’ for big produce effect

11/01/2013 10:10:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom Karst, National EditorTom Karst, National EditorJust how transformational will “Sesame Street” be in the produce department be in the next two years?

On Oct. 30, first lady Michelle Obama said Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association joined the Partnership for a Healthier America in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids. The amazing part of the piece is that the agreement allows companies to use the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee for that two-year period.

Characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby will help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables, with “Sesame Street” characters on display in retail produce departments as early as mid-2014.

Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster and Big Bird carry some swag with the very young and the not-so-young.

The show has been on since 1969, with Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Oscar, Grover and Cookie Monster all original characters. I was 10 at the time, and I recall my toddler/preschooler cousin Sarah was a big fan of the show. Other Sesame Street characters added over time were Mr. Snuffleupagus (1971), The Count (1972), Elmo (1980), Zoe (1993) and Abby Cadabby (2006).

By the time the show turned 10 in 1979, press accounts said 9 million U.S. children under the age of 6 were watching “Sesame Street” daily.

A six-year-old in 1979 would be 40 years old today, so the images and the characters of “Sesame Street” will ply their influence over the young and the nearly middle-aged.

Much remains to be seen on how the produce industry will use the marketing ooomph of “Sesame Street” at the retail produce level.

Is the “Sesame Street” image one that all produce marketers will want to “buy in” with to the consumer? Definitely not.

Some folks dig a NASCAR promotion, while others might be attracted to cause marketing like Fair Trade or a pink label for breast cancer awareness.

Other produce brands may not need further embellishment by “Sesame” characters.

And how much is too much Elmo? What happens to all the other licensed characters in the produce department? “Finding Nemo” may really be hard. And what happens after two years of high intensity exposure?

One of the important factors in this program’s success will be PMA’s role in the deal. They are tasked to:

 

  • Review all requests for Sesame Workshop assets for use in the promotions and permit use only on eligible products and according to the terms of the license agreement between Sesame Workshop and PMA;


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