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Baby Carrots Getting Junk Food Marketing Makeover

UPDATE 10/14/10: To date, this campaign, which challenges the establishment’s dominance over snacking culture, has been a wild success. Now carrot farmers are looking to add to the success this Halloween by creating “Scarrots”. Scarrots are 1.7 ounce single-serve bags of baby carrots, offered in a master bag containing 25 servings in 3 unique designs.  Also included is a sealed pouch containing 25 temporary glow-in-the-dark tattoos of masquerading baby carrot characters. 

If you are a food company that sells baby carrots, how do you get kids interested in your healthy product, when what they really want are those Fruit Roll-Ups, or some other snack with a flashy cartoon character and brightly colored logos?

As they say, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

It’s back-to-school time, so there’s no better time than now to make a bold move to be the choice snack for kids’ brown bag lunches. So, basically the entire baby carrot industry is making radical changes to their presentation, mimicking the junk food packaging that is so successful.

This week, about 50 companies in the baby carrot industry unveiled their plan which comes at cost of $25 million. That’s a pretty big bet. Not to mention it’s a David and Goliath story – baby carrots are a $1 billion industry as compared to the $18 billion salty snack industry.

“It’s not an anti-junk-food campaign,” says Jeff Dunn, Bolthouse Farms CEO and a former North America president at Coca-Cola. “It takes a page out of junk food’s playbook and applies it to baby carrots.”

So, what is the strategy?

  • Package their carrots in potato chip-style bags, with three different planned designs.
  • They will be sold in school vending machines. Tests are already underway in a couple markets (Cincinnati, Ohio and Syracuse, New York)
  • Use provocative slogans like on billboards and packaging, like “The original orange doodles.”
  • Use seasonal tie-ins, most notably Halloween.
  • Running TV ads that use some of the over-the-top descriptions that junk foods get.
  • Even offer a phone app with the sound of people crunching carrots.

Will it work, or will people see through the well-intentioned attempt, and revert to their Cheetoos? The campaign has its detractors. And people in the junk food industry seem to be passively mocking it.

“We’re happy to serve as an inspiration,” says Frito Lays spokesman Chris Kuechenmeister. “We know people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. We applaud any effort to provide consumers with a wider range of snacking options.”

(via: USA Today)

September 2nd, 2010

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