Should Kids’ Cartoons Sell Fruit & Veggies? Brandwashing Revisited

more matters monthSept. 16, 2009 Erma Bombeck once said, “My children refuse to eat anything that hasn’t danced on TV.”

Quick! Mind snap: Did you blink to California Raisins boogieing to “Heard it Through the Grapevine?” If so, you’ve been ‘brandwashed’ by that award-winning iconic campaign from FCB so long ago…

Next week on Sept. 21, two familiar icons and two slogans will be voted into Madison Avenue’s ‘Advertising Walk of Fame’ by the general public which will include plaques and banner waving fanfare between 42nd & 50th St. in NYC. I’m pulling for the healthy raisins and the Jolly Green Giant (except you only get to vote once, sorry big green guy, raisins got me first)

If this feels like one of those made-up Hallmark holidays or polling ploys to win mindshare and brand boost a tad, you can bet your bippy you’re right. But it’s all in good fun and part of pop culture touchpoints, right? Is that so bad? Especially since new icons are being seeded to sell fruit?

I just saw Sesame Street characters on locally farmed strawberries at Costco…then heard about the licensing deal with Strawberry Shortcake cut w/American Greetings to promote Produce for Better Health and tie in with National Fruits & Veggies – More Matters month. (yes, yet another arcane marketing celebration you’ve probably never heard of)

So will there be licensing battles of who owns what fruit or veggie now? Sigh.

Disney Banana Flashback to this post, Coaxing Kids with Cartoon Characters I wrote way back in 2006 about Disney testing  licensing and fruit…

Or this one, Using Marketing Methods to ‘Sell’ Kids Healthier Food

You’ll see I’m conflicted a between ‘better for you’ branding and ‘branding at all’…

The downside of fruit/veggie branding?

Womb to tomb commercialism, ad creep, every inch of neutral turf branded:  I wrote,  “Babies barely able to mumble ‘mama’ are being brand-driven from the get-go. It’s downright eery to see an infant reach out to a cartoon character for comfort. Or wee ones that can’t walk or talk yet tug and grunt for a brand.”

The upside? ‘More matters’—If it gets kids to eat more fruit & veggies, there’s a BIG plus in setting healthy habits early on.

I wrote:

“All the cartoon biggies are now entering the ‘good for you’ game… Nickelodeon. Disney. Warner Bros. Sesame Workshop. They’re licensing characters for grapes, pears and produce faster than you can say smoothie…

…Parents want to urge kids to eat right, so they’ll no doubt buy into the cartoon concept and skyrocket the sales. It’s happening already. Last year, SpongeBob and Dora boosted clementines 25%.”

strawberryI checked in with