Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Food Marketing Practices Archive

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Internet game teams with dentists to promote “fun instead of candy” for Halloween

September 2012
The creators of the online game “Zombies and Plants” have partnered with the American Dental Association for a Halloween promotion. The campaign aims to “Stop Zombie Mouth” by “redefining what a Halloween ‘treat’ can be... by giving FUN instead of candy.” A promotional website allows parents to download coupons and zombie trading cards to distribute on October 31st in place of candy and sweets. The coupons will also be distributed at dentist offices.

Walmart has strongest industry nutrition standards

June 2012
Disney’s release of nutrition criteria this week prompted applause from many. The standards are a step in the right direction, yet are not as strong as the standards released by Walmart earlier this year, where qualifying products sold at the stores may display the chain’s “Great for You” icon. The superstore giant requires that all foods bearing this logo contain serving sizes of major food groups, effectively allowing the label to be used almost exclusively on whole foods and minimally-processed food products. The standards make no exceptions for traditionally less-healthy food categories such as snack foods, salty soups or meats, and sugary breakfast cereals, which are common in other nutrition standards from industry leaders.

Birds Eye spending millions to market vegetables

May 2012
Birds Eye is the latest company, and first food company, to join with the Partnership for a Healthier America, Washington. The Partnership for a Healthier America, for which Michelle Obama is as honorary chairwoman, works with industry and private companies in efforts to curb the obesity epidemic. From 2012-2014, Birds Eye will spend a minimum of $2 million per year on advertising campaigns and other marketing outreach to encourage increased vegetable consumption among children. One of these campaigns, entitled “GenVeg”, will be particularly prominent.

Nestle Pure Life encourages families to drink water in place of sugary drinks

May 2012
Nestle Pure Life bottled water has initiated the “2012 Nestle Pure Life Hydration Movement”, through which nearly 100,000 families have pledged to drink water in place of one sugary beverage per day for a full year. Nestle is promoting the movement on Facebook, where pledge signatories receive coupons for water from the company. This is the third year that Nestle is promoting the Hydration Movement with an accompanying advertising campaign.

Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories

March 2012
Cheerios is promoting its Spoonfuls of Stories initiative, which began in 2002 and is now celebrating its 10th year. Certain boxes of original variety Cheerios contain popular children’s books, available in both English and Spanish. Since the program began, the company has given away 60 million books, and will give away 6 million this year alone. Original Cheerios are the healthiest variety within the Cheerios brand, as well as one of the healthiest Big G children’s cereals. With just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber per serving, the product is a healthier alternative to the less-healthy products Cheerios has marketed to kids in the past, such as Honey Nut or Fruity Cheerios.

Grocery chain rewards kids and schools for purchasing healthy items

January 2012
Stop and Shop and Giant grocery stores are working to educate kids about healthy foods and encouraging them to make healthy choices. Through the A+ School Rewards Program, shoppers earn triple points for their schools on items with the chain’s “healthy ideas” label. The chain also partners with Field Trip Factory to offer nutrition-oriented field trips at the stores that focus on food groups, vitamins and minerals, organic food, and physical activity. The grocer’s website also features a “Passport to Nutrition” section with interactive games and handouts about health and healthy eating.

Cuties campaign makes fruit fun

December 2011
Cuties is running a $20 million campaign to highlight their California mandarins, marking the first time the brand has made its citrus fruits available nationwide. The campaign includes television and print ads, in addition to a website, where parents can enter their own “cutie” in a video contest for a chance to win a $150,000 scholarship for one lucky child. Each uploaded video also allows the user to donate $10 to a variety of classroom projects through The ads highlight that the nutritious fruit is “perfect for little hands” and can be fun for kids to peel and eat.

“Kung Fu Panda 2” Teams up with Tofu

May 2011
To coincide with the release of the second installment of Kung Fu Panda this month, DreamWorks has partnered with House Foods America Corporation to jointly market the new computer animated film and a variety of tofu products. The main character, Po, will appear on product packaging to promote the high protein meat alternative. In addition to the kid-oriented packaging, print and billboard ads, a newspaper coupon promotion, and a website were recently launched.

‘Rango’ Promoted on h20 Spring Water bottles

March 2011
Coinciding with the release of the new Paramount Pictures film ‘Rango’, h20 Spring Water has introduced new packaging which displays the friendly protagonist from the film. The water, which comes in an eco-friendly paper container, is a healthy, desirable alternative to sugar-sweetened sodas, juice drinks, and energy drinks which are often marketed to children and youth.

Baby carrot craze: Campaign urges consumers to “Eat ‘em like junk food”

December 2010
In an effort to promote vegetables as a convenient alternative to many prepackaged snack foods, a group of carrot growers has funded an advertising campaign for baby carrots. The extensive internet and television campaign includes an interactive website and uses marketing techniques typically employed by the junk food industry. The campaign specifically promotes individual packages of the miniature vegetable, which are available in many vending machines.

Shrek Used to Increase Onion Appeal

July 2010
The Vidalia Onion Committee partnered with DreamWorks for its “Shrek Forever After, Vidalias Forever Sweet” campaign, which includes use of Shrek characters on packaging, store displays, and the company website. The goal of the campaign is to make onions popular with children, and the Vidalia Committee believes this marketing effort has been successful. Demand for their medium-sized onions is up 30-35% this year. Meanwhile, parents are expressing their surprise and delight that their children are pestering them for the bags of onion and eating them.

NatureSweet Video Contest Encourages Children to Eat Tomatoes

April 2010
NatureSweet has launched a video contest with Radio Disney to promote their Cherubs bite-sized tomatoes to youth. The talent contest lets children and teens submit videos of themselves singing to be voted on by the public. The winner will receive a trip to LA to meet AllStar Weekend, Disney’s new popular boy band. Radio Disney reaches 22.2 million youth, providing an incredible outlet for NatureSweet to communicate to youth that tomatoes are a sweet and healthy snack.

New Dairy Industry Ad Supports the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” Program

February 2010
In support of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” Program, the dairy industry has released a new ad that presents fat-free milk as part of the solution to fight childhood obesity and encourages the consumption of water and skim milk instead of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages. Unlike other recent efforts by the dairy industry that pushed chocolate milk consumption, this ad focuses solely on increasing consumption of fat-free milk in addition to getting 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Hidden Valley Ranch Promotes Vegetables Through Web Series

December 2009
Hidden Valley Ranch is sponsoring a new Web series by NBC Universal Digital Studio called “Garden Party” which is meant to help families build healthy eating habits and incorporate vegetables into their diet. The series, hosted by actress Jennie Garth, will feature a veggie-of-the-month with recipes, videos on iVillage, and tips to help kids love veggies.

KFC “Penny Per Calorie” Campaign Promotes Low-Cal Meal

December 2009
KFC’s new campaign promotes a 395-calorie meal of grilled chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy for $3.95. This campaign encourages the consumption of a low-calorie meal amidst a sea of fast food marketing for high-calorie foods and meal combos.

Stop & Shop and Nick Jr. Promote Fruits and Vegetables to Children

November 2009
Stop & Shop collaborated with Nick Jr. to create flyers for children that promote fruits and vegetables. The flyers use popular Nick Jr. characters, such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob, to make fruits and vegetables fun and exciting for children, and include activities for children, healthy recipes, and tips for parents.

Welch’s Helping Schools Grow Fruit and Vegetable Gardens

November 2009
Welch’s is partnering with Scholastic Parent & Child magazine to sponsor “Harvest Grants,” a program that will help 100 schools across the nation grow fruit and vegetable gardens. This hands-on program is a great way to help thousands of children not only improve their education, but also connect with nature, engage in physical activity, and increase fruits and vegetable consumption.

GOT MILK? Asks Children to Pledge to Have a Healthy Halloween

October 2009
GOT MILK? is asking kids to reduce the amount of sweets and candies they eat this Halloween – which usually totals 9,000 additional calories and three pounds of sugar – and encouraging them to consume healthier options instead. In exchange for taking the pledge, children will receive a set of GOT MILK? school supplies.

NYC Launches Bold Campaign Advocating for Decreased Consumption of Sugary Beverages

August 2009
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages adds hundreds of extra calories to a person’s diet each day. In an effort to reverse this harmful trend, the NYC Health Department has launched an anti-soda campaign which asks its residents, “Are you pouring on the pounds?” The graphic image of body fat being poured from a bottle of soda effectively displays the harmful effect sugary beverage consumption has on one’s weight and health.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Screens Food Inc.

July 2009
Chipotle Mexican Grill is educating its customers about the grotesque practices of the food industry by showing free screenings of the film Food Inc. at its restaurants.

Disney Licenses Characters to Fruits and Vegetables

May 2009
Disney has traditionally licensed its characters to low-nutrient, high-calorie foods, such as sugary cereals and fast food kid meals. Recently, the company has been licensing its characters to fruits, vegetables, and dairy products with the hope that this powerful marketing technique will increase the appeal of healthy foods to children.

Milk Industry and NBA Team Up for “Get Fit By Finals” Campaign

March 2009
Rates of obesity are at an all-time high, due in part to inactivity and poor nutrition among youth. In an effort to promote physical fitness and nutrition to teens, the milk industry joined forces with the NBA and its star players to encourage youth to take small steps to improve their health, such as drinking three glasses of milk and getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Nestlé Encourages Hispanics to Drink Water Instead of Soda

November 2008
The consumption of soft drinks is associated with increased obesity and risk of diabetes, especially among minority populations. Nestlé Pure Life launched an anti-soda campaign targeted to Hispanics, which promoted drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened sodas.