I called it a “simple question.” I found out it was not so. Here is the query I posed to the Google and LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Groups . . .
“Simple question. If you were put in charge of marketing fruit and vegetables to American adults — and given an ample advertising budget — what approach do you think would work best? Would you choose spokespersons with sex appeal, emphasis on the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, the gap in consumption compared to dietary guidelines, weight loss benefits or some other message to change consumer attitudes?”
The question is problematic in that it set up an unrealistic scenario — an ample advertising budget. That is akin to saying “if gravity didn’t exist, how far could you jump?” Still, playing along with the “if price was no object” assumption, the group had multiple approaches to answering the question.
Working with quick-serve chains to put more produce on menus, highlighting the health/nutrition message at retail, appealing to the need for convenience, capitalizing on the “know your farmer” sentiment and greater use of sampling at retail were some of the ideas. But plugging in to star power was a recurring theme.
The comments bellow are a few excerpts of what the group expressed in the thread. As you can see, the 820-plus member LinkedIn group has an international flavor. I’ll omit the names for this purpose but otherwise keep the remarks as written:
“Our experience in Brazil shows that only spokespersons with appeal (not only sex appeal!), may change consumers’ attitudes. Information upon nutritional values, dietary guidelines, and weight loss benefits... is already well known by almost everybody, but doesn't change attitude. Examples in Brazil: until the early 90’s, the image of the banana was a cheap fruit for poor people. We did merchandising on TV shows with our national tennis champion, “Guga” (Gustavo Kuerten) where he was saying he consumed bananas to improve his diet, intake of potassium, etc... and he was also saying how easy it was to have banana available and easy to eat. We continued with football stars, like Ronaldo and today, the image of eating banana has completely changed, price is now in a profitable range for the grower, and everybody is happy.”
This comment tended to reinforce my hunch that U.S. industry fruit and vegetable promotions need star appeal. This comment got the thread going, and this comment came from a like-minded member of the group from India;