How do you get people to eat more carrots? Keep telling them they are healthy or sell them like junk food? A company in the US is doing just that. Packaging, promoting and selling carrots as the next thing to crunch instead of burgers or chips. And people just seem to be lapping it up. What does it mean? We tune out preachy pitches but respond to anything as long as it’s ‘fun’? There’s a lesson in this for all the campaigns where we emphasise the obvious. We’ve had it drilled into our heads that carrots and vegetables are healthy. And we yawned. But package it as the next hot chip complete with the subliminal crinkly pack and the crunch that entertains? Well, it appears that we are mindless about what we put into our mouths as long as we are told it tastes like forbidden food.
The market for baby carrots is already worth a billion dollars. And this guy wanted to take it to the next billion – when his team discovered a crucial statistic on examining advertising campaigns for agricultural commodities. like avocados, eggs, milk or almonds. That it was effective every time. Paying back as much as twice to 10 times for the money spent. But when he asked agencies to pitch, every single one of them emphasised the healthy aspect of eating carrots in their communication until he got to Crispin Porter and Bogusky. From the packaging to the advertising, they went for junk food style graphics – emphasising fun, not health. The campaign, run in 2 test markets has already yielded impressive results.
The moral of the story here gets a little muddy. Do you take something that is known for a certain quality and turn it on its head? Does bank advertising have to be boring and straight laced just because banking is about prudence? But today’s bankers are far from prudent, as the Wall Street collapse revealed. Will we buy more insurance if it is sold to us as a very risky thing instead of ultrasafe? Or real estate as a fun, casual way to blow up a few millions? High priced cars have done a great job of getting devotees of speed to buy at insane costs. It will take persuasion to convince marketing heads in sedate product categories that serious advertising is like advising people to do the right thing. Between a friend who lectures you drinking too much and the one who takes you on a tour of the hottest night spots, who are you most likely to follow?