Tongue-in-cheek with celebrity backing, a new "superhero meets sports" brand for fruits and vegetables is poised to change the way the U.S. public interacts with produce.
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has pledged US$1 million in funding in 2015 as a founding supporter of FNV, a Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) initiative that was launched today in Washington D.C.
Victors & Spoils chief marketing officer Andy Nathan said the campaign aimed to emulate iconic brands like Nike and Apple, and would not only involve celebrity advertising but also endorsements from everyday fruit consumers, most notably kids and parents.
"From this day forward what we're doing is, we're actually turning fruits and veggies into one big iconic brand called FNV, and we're using tried-and-true marketing tactics to make fruits and veggies more fun and more relevant," Nathan said.
"We intend on doing consumer generated ads where various people can upload a photo from social media, and they can actually choose the fruit that they want to sponsor, and we're creating endorsements, just as NBA and NFL athletes have their own endorsement deals."
Celebrities that have already signed on include actresses Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell, as well as NFL players such as Victor Cruz, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. Organizers expect to continue to sign up new celebrities to back the brand, while PMA chairman Kevin Fiori noted their participation was pro bono.
"It's going to roll out in a couple of markets and aim to create an edgy and innovative marketing campaign featuring celebrities who appeal to 11-18-year-olds," he said, with those markets being Fresno, California and Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The campaign will roll out in those two markets this spring, however the entire campaign will have a national overlay via digital and social networks.
"We believe the FNV initiative will expand the fruit and vegetable conversation," said Fiori, who is also VP of sales and marketing at Sunkist Growers.
PMA president Cathy Burns said the campaign would involve a holistic approach, applying to both retailers and foodservice operators.
"We're very hopeful and anticipate that retailers and foodservice operators find an opportunity to take this asset, and apply it either to their stores or to their restaurant facilities," she said.
"The possibilities and implications that this has for the produce industry are monumental," she said.