If you can't beat 'em, satirize 'em. That's the thinking behind "Eat 'Em Like Junk Food," the first advertising/marketing campaign for baby carrots, brought to us by "a bunch of carrot farmers."
With two decades worth of sales growth for the pre-packaged convenience veggies (cut out of larger carrots) petering off, thanks to consumers' budget-conscious, cut-'em-down yourself tendencies, an alliance of 50 carrot farmers is investing an initial $25 million to get to the root of the problem.
Embracing the competition's strategists, the alliance, spearheaded by leading producer Bolthouse Farms (Bakersfield, Calif.), picked Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) -- agency for Burger King, Domino's Pizza and Coke Zero, as well as Kraft and retailers such as Gap, Old Navy and Best Buy -- to lead creative, media buying and placement.
CP+B's approach: Skip the obvious "healthier for you" message and indeed, the whole veggie angle, and instead position baby carrots as a snack food that's cooler than predictable chips and other crunchy options. "For baby carrots to join the conversation with other snacks, they need a bit of attitude," summed up CP+B partner/chief creative officer Andrew Keller. "Mocking modern snack marketing is a strategic way of creating that attitude."
The integrated TV, online/social media and outdoor branding campaign supports new packages that look more like chip bags than veggie bags and carry the "Eat 'Em Like Junk Food" tagline, as well as school vending machines installed next to those of traditional snack brands.
The campaign will launch Sept. 13 in test markets Syracuse and Cincinnati and roll out to other markets later this year.
The TV spots position baby carrots as futuristic ("scientists" study their crunch), sexy (woman irresistibly drawn to the little beauties) and dynamic (carrot inspires new extreme mountain sport). The plan calls for rolling the spots out to other markets later this year. Billboards take a similarly cheeky approach, with messages like "The original orange doodle" and "So what if our name doesn't end in 'itos'?"
The babycarrots.com site uses a heavy metal band soundtrack that pounds home the "extreme" nature of this snack and spotlights the new bag designs, the first commercial, a video of a clueless-looking young convenience store worker mindlessly popping carrot after carrot into his mouth, and "the world's first carrot-crunch-powered video game." (Players of the iPhone/iPod Touch "Xtreme Xrunch Kart" game maneuver a "rocket-powered" shopping cart by tilting a mobile device, and can trigger "gravity-defying" tricks by crunching a real baby carrot into the microphone.)
The new baby carrots Facebook page -- describing the items as "the greatest junk food on the planet" ("more crunchy than chips ... more orange-y than cheese puffs ... more addicting than any snack than ends in -itos") so far has nearly 1,000 fans, and a Twitter presence has generated nearly 400 tweets.
How much leverage do the growers hope to get out of turning baby carrots into a brand, à la the highly effective "milk moustache" campaign that in part inspired the carrots-as-junk-food approach? The goal is doubling the current $1 billion baby carrot market within two to three years, reported the Associated Press.