Organic CEOs Engage In Video Duel

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Organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm is launching a year-long education campaign to encourage consumers to buy more organic food and beverages.

The effort includes a rap video by company CEO Gary Hirshberg. His effort was followed by a similar video from Coca-Cola's Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman. Both companies are conducting promotions and giveways around their videos, which can both be seen at the Honest Tea Web site, justdrinkorganic.com.

Stonyfield is collaborating with Honest Tea on a contest in honor of Earth Month. Consumers can create a video for an opportunity to win $1,000 and a month's supply of Stonyfield yogurt and Honest Tea.

The company is conducting a separate video contest in conjunction with its "The Organic Moment" interactive digital platform. Contestants in that contest can win a year's supply of organic groceries from Stonyfield Farm and other organic brands including Honest Tea, Annie's, Happy Baby, Grandy Oats Granola, Late July, Nature's Path, Organic Valley and Theo Chocolate.

The site, at www.yourorganicmoment.com, already includes stories from notables such as "Food, Inc." director Robert Kenner and founder of "Meatless Mondays" Chris Elam. Consumers are invited to send in their stories as texts, photos or no-fuss videos, like Flip cam, web cam, or mobile cam.

Both companies are promoting their initiatives on social media including Facebook and Twitter.

"We created a tab for Facebook, which will appear when new consumers visit our Facebook page," Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman tells Marketing Daily."We're working with our retail partners like Sprouts to include it in their newsletters, which will reach a number of our consumers through the places they like to shop. We're hoping that the great message (well-timed with Earth Month) and the fun nature of the video will encourage viewers to pass it along to their friends and networks."

The dueling videos and similar educational campaigns came about because the CEOs are longtime friends, Goldman says. Hirshberg sits on the advisory council at Honest Tea, as well as being his mentor, Goldman adds.

"Despite the disbelief of my three sons, I actually was in a rap group in college, (the Educated Devastators, Harvard '87), Goldman says. "So when I saw Gary's rap, I knew that we could put together a very different kind of rap that could also help generate awareness about the importance of organics. I have been continually disappointed to see market research that shows consumers still don't understand what the term 'organic' means, so anything we can do to help them appreciate why organics matter is worth doing, up to and including embarrassing ourselves."

Stonyfield Farm's Social Media Manager Amy VanHaren says that in addition to social media, traditional media and community outreach also will be used to promote the contests and educational effort. "In addition, we've initiated direct email contact with partners that we've worked with before (including our trade association and like-minded companies and personalities) to ask them to alert their communities and bloggers and we're asking all of Stonyfield's community to be ambassadors and share with friends and family," VanHaren tells Marketing Daily.

The target demographic for the campaign is "anyone who eats," adds Stonyfield Farm Communications and Social Media Vice President Alice Markowitz. "We want everyone who thinks about what they eat to share," she says. "And if some of our favorite eaters -- Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, or Ellen (DeGeneres) or 'The View' -- want to view these raps, then Gary is more than happy to come on and sing in person."

The videos from both companies are light-hearted, but also convey some troubling facts and figures and images about non-organic food.

Stonyfield Farm's video tells the story of America's switch from family farms to modern agriculture, which allowed "Big Agriculture" to profit while consumers became addicted to convenient foods that are bad for their health." Cancer rates are steadily rising, in kids and moms and dads," Hirshberg raps. "A baby born in Birmingham, Boise, Bend or Boston now has in her cord blood almost 300 toxins. The U.S. Cancer Panel Study makes me ill at ease 'cause 41% of us will get this disease. Cut out unnecessary chemicals is what they prescribe. So to avoid getting sick, just change the stuff you imbibe!"

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