The eat brighter!™ Brandwagon

Recently, it struck us that the Produce Marketing Association has given our business development efforts a boost with their eat brighter! program. The program features Sesame Street™ characters and a bright colour palate designed to focus the pester power of kids on parents to buy packages of produce that appeal to them. We assume that's the theory, at least.

From where we sit, we can believe that the program should make sense for growers and shippers of commodity products in nameless PLU bags and clams. We can see that the bold colour and branded character embellishments should add perceived value and pull at shelf. The licensing itself isn't that expensive for such an undertaking and we can imagine a sales lift simply by virtue of presenting a package that doesn't look like it fell off the back of a truck.

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Unfortunately, growers and shippers who have run out of strategic and/or creative gas (or never had any) are outsourcing accountability and eating this program up, somehow thinking that sacrificing their brand for a cast of outdated characters is somehow going to benefit them beyond having something to tweet about.  A tour of the produce aisle shows this to be an undeniable truth. Meanwhile, their competitive set leapfrogs them.

These product packages are all from different companies. #differentiation  #butnotreally

As brand architects and marketing strategists with some expertise in the fresh space, we owe great thanks to PMA for demonstrating the value that licensing programs can bring to commodity products. But, most of all, a big pat on the back for encouraging branding hold-outs to take the leap from nameless blandness to bold and colourful namelessness with a touch of trademarked happiness.

Now, the days grow shorter and the branding rookies are getting wise. Those that went all-in, especially. Wise because they’ve now pushed through the first eat brighter! seasons and witnessed, first hand, the differentiation gap narrow. The eat brighter! room has gotten crowded and they’re finding themselves right back where they started. Worse off, perhaps, considering the cost to produce their full colour packaging. No longer does their playfully trademarked product package stand out on the shelf like it did on Day One. They’ve simply gone from unknown to licensed unknown, and the commoditization of brand which is eat brighter! no longer delivers the lift it once did.

It sure is great that kids are being encouraged to eat more fresh produce. It's great that parents are actually cooking meals. And, it's going to be a boon for us in the branding and packaging business when the light comes on. All this time, growers and shippers have been selling the Sesame Street™ brand and not their own. All the packages, retail supports, shippers, cases, cartons and countless #emperorsnewclothes exercises have minimized their own brand, depressing it to the point that it needs to be rebuilt or relaunched.

Thanks to PMA and eat brighter! there is a growing number of pro-brand advocates now looking to make the next leap. They’ve had a taste of the value differentiation can bring and now they want some of their own.

Well, of course we can help with that.

With a proprietary process of brand development, Tugboat Group specializes in pulling from principals and key stakeholders the unique and intangible, creating genuine brands that are defendable and non-transferable. We work with clients in the fresh sector striving to be relevant and matter more to their customers. We do the heavy lifting. Our clients reap the rewards.

Disclaimer: IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that programs (like eat brighter!) that are designed to encourage consumption of more fresh fruits and vegetables are desperately needed in our micro-packaged-QSR world. We think the program is pretty smart and has a lot of hooks and angles. But, we also think that marketers should not be so lazy and uninspiring.