I received dozens of calls from TV and radio stations that seemed irrelevant to our promotional strategy, and they went to the bottom of the “call return” list, usually never to be returned.
Until I got wise to the radio gal. And the radio guy, as it turns out.
Here’s a little back story.
Many of us in produce have worked with ad agencies or graphic design firms.
Most of them were agency types unschooled in grocery or the produce business, and they would all recommend putting a brand sticker on the fruit. Or a sign in the produce department.
If only it were that simple!
Actually, back in the day, it did used to be that simple. In my small city in the 1960s, IGA’s produce aisle was about 12 feet long. Chilled items were on mirror-backed slant tables. Root vegetables, nuts and other shelf-stables were on the opposite side.
Chiquita, Dole, Sunkist, Diamond and other big names in produce had all manner of kitschy display aids, most of which were hung from the ceiling.
Blow-up oranges, multi-colored crepe paper swags, and Chiquita banana lady cut-outs spring to mind.
But the carnival ended 15 or 20 years ago, when produce departments began cultivating a more sleek, sophisticated appearance.
Marketing consultants decreed that all departments from pet food to toys and produce must have the same feel across the store.
I can’t deny that that’s a good move.
OK, so back to our response to main street art firms and ad agencies: Truth is, it’s getting harder to put up your sign in produce, or to put a clever sticker on a piece of fruit burdened with GTINs.
For that reason, today’s produce shippers, packers and growers are called to be artistically creative and to adopt innovative approaches to raising awareness in the produce department.
That’s where the radio people come in.
Think outside the box
In recent years I got smart and started listening to the radio gals and guys — even though our organization didn’t have a mass media budget.
Salespeople are creative, after all, and I needed new ideas.
In one situation, the persistent radio gal wanted — surprise! — to sell us radio.
We didn’t really want radio. Broadcast radio can be one part of a comprehensive promotional budget, but with limited dollars to spend we needed to hone in at the point of sale.
But I’d learned this nugget from the Nielsen Perishables Group: More than 80% of decisions to buy produce are made while the shopper is standing in the produce department, which makes produce the most important place to influence shoppers’ opinions.