Posted by Linda Bonvie
March 5, 2015
By BILL BONVIE
While Coca-Cola may have taken a big step in the right direction with the introduction of its cane sugar-and-stevia-sweetened beverage, “Life” (as we noted here last week), that product, unfortunately, isn’t what the company is hyping in its latest pitch to its biggest target market – the youth culture.
Instead, it’s launched a campaign dubbed “powers,” aimed at convincing teenagers that the “effervescent symphony of uplifting taste sensations” of regular, high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke can best be appreciated by those with “taste buds in the prime of their lives” (even those with braces on their teeth). And the tagline for these spots, “While your tongue is young,” is obviously intended to make sure that no adolescent is left behind.
Alas! We had hoped that “Life” might be promoted to the teen market as well as to the “green” one. But that, apparently, would be too much to expect of the Big Beverage makers who hire the Mad Men that come up with these sorts of strategies and slogans.
And that’s just the latest example of the techniques – some more creative than others – that are constantly used to hawk junk foods, fast foods, and other additive-laden processed products to especially gullible underage customers.
What is fortunate, however, is that the Don Drapers of the world can be retained to craft campaigns on behalf of healthier products as well. And that’s exactly what some of them are now being engaged to do – that is, to provide America with “a healthy dose of advertising” competing for the same youthful audience companies like Coke are now attempting to tempt with a “taste sensation” that can lead to obesity and diabetes.
The nationwide multimedia initiative that’s about to be launched this spring will engage such celebrities as Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell, as well as big-name athletes, in encouraging teens to eat more fruits and vegetables (to be henceforth referred to by the catch phrase “FNV”). Its purpose, as described by one of its biggest supporters, First Lady Michelle Obama, will be to “fight back” against all the money being poured into the marketing of unhealthy foods with ads for healthy ones.
‘Disruptive’ strategy planned
To this end, James Gavin, board chairman of Partnership for a Healthier America, said the campaign will not only be “stealing a page out of the big brands playbook,” but will be “disruptive,” “proactive,” and “ stop at nothing until the country is asking for more FNVs, please.” According to its advance publicity, it promises to be “as fresh, colorful, light and crisp as the fruits and veggies it’s promoting” complete with “strong typographic design and “tongue-in-cheek headlines.” One of the stated objectives of all this is to build the level of interest to a point where it registers a million posts daily on social media, as opposed to the approximately 629,000 that now mention fruits or vegetables. (For a post to count in this effort, it would have to use the hashtag #URWHATUPOST.)
So who’s behind this commercial counterattack? The idea was the brain child of Bolthouse Farms, a retailer specializing in fruit and vegetable-based snack foods, and is cosponsored by a diverse group of organizations that includes Produce for Better Health, the Produce Marketing Association, Avocados from Mexico, The Honest Company, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the WWE Network, the ad agency Victors and Spoils, which developed its marketing campaign, and sweetgreen, a retailer specializing in organic and locally grown food.
The participation of the latter company is one we find particularly encouraging. That’s because while the goals of the campaign are certainly commendable, many fruits and vegetables contain residues of toxic chemicals that an emphasis on organic and local produce would certainly help to reduce.
That consideration aside, any effort to win over the hearts, minds and tongues of the young to the uplifting taste sensations offered by nature’s bounty, instead of the additive-imbued, nutrient-deficient and health-impairing imitation foods that commercial interests have long pitched to them, couldn’t come as a more welcome development.