Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carrots are the new junk food

Since blogging doesn't exactly pay the bills, I actually spend my non-meal times focused on the regular ol' business world. So when food and business collide, color me fascinated. Not too long ago, I heard that carrots were being marketed as junk food to kids. As if we needed more proof that we're influenced by advertising, it turns outs that carrot sales are way up.

So here's a little primer on the carrot business. Much like the soda industry, it's a duopoly. The number two player in the carrot biz is Bolthouse, which I'd previously only known for their bottled beverages. Concerned about why carrot sales were lagging, they found that in the recession people were back to buying full sized carrots in favor of the more expensive and quicker to spoil baby carrots.

Eager to reap the benefits of an ad campaign, a la Got Milk, they partnered with the advertising studs du jour from Crispin Porter + Bogusky and set about reviving carrots. But rather than talk about the health benefits of carrots, they decided to brand baby carrots as junk food. Carrots are even being packaged in bags reminiscent of potato chips and are being sold in vending machines.

According to a Fast Company article on the subject, "The truth about baby carrots is they possess many of the defining characteristics of our favorite junk food. They're neon orange, they're crunchy, they're dippable, they're kind of addictive."

Ads using humor and traditional junk food cues were tested in several markets and resulted in 10-12% increases in baby carrot sales. That's huge (and sad). Crazy how impacted we are by advertising, but anything that gets us to eat healthier is a good thing in my book.

Crispin is known for it's irreverant ads, and these are no different. Check this one out:



Now go get yourself some carrots and read more here.

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