Baby Carrots: Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food

If you haven’t seen this effort by “a bunch of carrot farmers,” take a look:

When I saw this new campaign to market baby carrots, I got very excited, as this is exactly what farmers need to be doing: applying the lessons of junk-food marketers to vegetables. And this group of carrot farmers has an ambitious goal: to double the $1 billion baby carrot market in 2–3 years.

And yes, before someone else says it, this effort probably means that millions of baby carrots will be originating on industrial-scale farms, rather than full-sized carrots coming from local farms. But it will also mean that more kids are choosing this veggie option instead of chips. In other words, they will be opting for industrially farmed carrots over industrially farmed potatoes and corn that are deep-fried in oil—also industrially farmed.

Most importantly, the initiative shows what can be achieved when the same manipulative marketing tactics used for junk food are applied to healthy foods. I still remember watching a Dateline episode where a child chooses the banana that has Scooby Doo stickers on it, rather than the cupcake without a cartoon character on it. Heck, the children even choose a decorated rock over a plain banana. It’s really that simple: kids like bright colors and cartoon characters—a reality that we in the sustainability movement need to capitalize on as effectively as junk food companies do. And if you don’t believe me watch this:

While this effort is super, unfortunately, still has a bit more work to do in perfecting its message. For one, it isn’t really clear who the website is targeting. There’s a video of a guy in his late 30s playing a Baby Carrots video game that looks like it’s targeted at a younger demographic. They’ve got three advertisements and carrot bag designs—targeting, I would guess, teenagers and maybe men in their 20s and 30s (especially given the presence of the sexy woman, although the related bag design seems to be appealing to women and those who buy fancy packaged snacks). But I won’t go into my critique of the effort here, as I wrote a long analysis here addressed specifically to the team that designed Take a look if you want the in-depth critique. And if not, here’s my favorite part:

Currently, one packaging design features an orange rabbit that appears to be a spoof of two popular junk food icons: the Trix rabbit and the Cheetos tiger. Your rabbit offers far greater potential than you utilize and should be at the center of your branding efforts. Create an elaborate story around it, make it the star of your future video games, and give it a strong personality. Look at the Trix Rabbit, the Nesquik Bunny, the Cheetos Tiger, Lucky the Leprechaun, the Keebler Elves, Snap, Crackle and Pop, Froot Loop’s Toucan Sam, and so on. Most of these characters have robust personalities and back stories, as should your spokescartoon.

Perhaps, in his back story, the BC (Baby Carrots) Bunny could be at odds with farmers in trying to eat the carrots they grow, offering a Peter-Rabbit-esque rebellious streak that seems to work so well with cartoon protagonists. Or, perhaps, he is a suburban rabbit who has had to start sneaking into grocery stores to get his carrots because of the loss of farms and now has to elude security cameras and the trolls that live in the freezer section (yes, trolls—who says they only live under bridges?). This latter scenario may offer an opportunity to also teach children about the importance of farms and gardens, which will, in the long term, reinforce a dietary preference for produce over processed foods. It might also give our rabbit protagonist an opportunity to try junk food (while in a grocery store) and, not surprisingly, find it greasy and gross (or maybe even use it to distract the slovenly, junk food-eating trolls).

Happy crunching!

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