When it comes to food marketing, ads for energy drinks, breakfast cereals, and fast foods can be spotted all over the place, while produce ads are scarcely seen. That is until now. Athletes, actors, musicians, and pretty people are joining forces as Team FNV (fruits and vegetables) to convince Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. This team of stars was recruited by First Lady Michelle Obama in an effort to do exactly what food corporations have been doing for decades—appeal to our emotions and needs regarding the perceived benefits of a product. In this case we’re talking produce.
“If folks are going to pour money into marketing for unhealthy foods, then let’s fight back with ads for healthy foods,” the first lady said. The campaign was announced on February 26, 2015 by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a non-profit created to support the Let’s Move campaign.
A shift is happening across America when it comes to eating more healthfully, and a bold multi-media campaign may be just what is needed to kick nationwide efforts into high gear. Creating new social norms takes time, greater awareness, audience motivation, and, ultimately, action to adopt different beliefs and behaviors.
So who’s involved in creating this cultural shift? Leaders from public health, health care, grassroots advocates, and farmers just to name a few. Now you can add to that list actresses Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell, singer Nick Jonas (cue teen swooning), pro-wrestler John Cena, and pro-football players Victor Cruz, Colin Kaepernick, and Cam Newton. This high-profile group makes up Team FNV, which promises to give America “a healthy dose of advertising” for apples, avocados, beets, and carrots this spring. We know that media characters have an impact on children’s food choices, so why not apply these principles to celebs?
This isn’t the first time that the first lady has called upon showbiz to promote public health messages. Remember when she announced that the Sesame Workshop had agreed to give two years of character licensing, free of charge, to the Produce Marketing Association? Since 2004, Sesame Street has integrated healthy food choices and exercise messages as a part of the Healthy Habits for Life Initiative. Whether it’s “Eat your rainbow!” or planting a garden beside Elmo while explaining the how foods grow and how they help kids grow strong, Sesame Street has mindfully led the way when it comes to child food marketing efforts and health education for preschoolers. In fact, Sesame’s healthy habits impact can be found near and far, including among preschoolers: in South Africa with regards to HIV/AIDS education, in Bangladesh to improve literacy scores, and in Mexico with positive hygiene and nutrition changes. Check out Sesame’s health-changing impact on preschoolers around the globe.
What does all this really mean? A few things can be correlated to these marketing shifts:
- Healthy foods are becoming sexy and exciting—transcending crunchy consumers and bodybuilders into the mainstream
- Companies and celebs want to reverse and stop poor health outcomes—they care about customers’ and fans’ future
- The market wants more of the good stuff—healthy eats, eye-candy, and a bright future
So will Team FNV prove to be effective? Or, will it be another belly flop in the pool of marketing? Only time will tell. I, for one, am excited that fruits and veggies are being given the spotlight they deserve. Hey Team FNV, need another team member? I’m available. Call me.
Before you go, check out the FNV trailer below.
With a passion for educating for the purpose of heath empowerment, Katie Bevan has been raising awareness of public health issues for over seven years at the Lorain County General Health District. She specializes in the development and administration of population-based messages to reduce chronic diseases and unintentional traffic-related injuries. She earned a Master of Science in Health Communication from Boston University. Katie is crazy about kale, blueberries, and purple potatoes.