The selected films focus on "the challenges and realities of the industrialized food system," the Austin, Texas-based company says in its release. The list includes "Food, Inc.," an Academy Award nominee this year in the documentary category, "King Corn" and "No Impact Man," as well as a few sci-fi classics, like "Soylent Green" (1973) and "Silent Running" (1972.)
It's a smart move, Michael Solomon, marketing professor and director of the Center for Consumer Research at St. Joseph's University, tells Marketing Daily. "It's a natural thing to do, since they are already in that position of educating consumers, and it's not at all controversial -- they are preaching to the choir," he says.
And as we are coming out of the recession, he says, it's a chance for Whole Foods -- a marketer that has never been able to compete on price, despite a few nods to the economy during the worst of the recession -- "to switch the conversation away from a value argument back to a quality argument."
A spokesperson for the chain says that in addition to social media and in-store marketing, the chain will use local and regional PR efforts as well to generate awareness of the 150-plus screenings.
"Our goal is to help open people's eyes to the reality of what's going on with food in our world," Mara Fleishman, global project leader of the "Let's Retake Our Plates" initiative, says in the release. "Whole Foods Market has been committed to improving our food system for 30 years, and this is a great way to gather together to understand that every dollar spent in a grocery store is not the same. Conscious food choices can make a difference."
Perhaps the boldest part of its announcement is Whole Foods' invention of a new term: Earth Month. Earth Day, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year, is April 22, and the many events on and around that day are often referred to as Earth Week. And of course, Earth Hour, a global initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, was last weekend.
"But if Whole Foods wants to celebrate the earth for a whole month, we think that's great," says a spokesperson for the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Day Network.
Earth Day continues to attract consumer and marketer support. This year, Earth Day Network expects one billion people in 190 countries to take some action on behalf of Earth Day 2010. Last week, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced that it would plant 1 million trees this year, and the DVD/Blu-Ray version of its "Avatar" will be released on Earth Day.