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"Shazam!" Stonyfield Creates "Food Superhero" Corps to Fight Obesity

Posted by Dale Buss on June 28, 2012 12:02 PM

Stonyfield Farms CEO Gary Hirshberg continually stresses the rationale for organic eating and frequently mentions that avoiding diseases caused by pesticides and other factors in the diet is a huge part of it. But it's a strong message that isn't digested easily by American consumers who aren't true believers in organic, so the brand must continually develop more palatable ways to spread the gospel of organic eating.

The brand's new "Be a Food Superhero" campaign attempts to make that message more fun. The Londonderry, N.H.-based leader of the U.S. organic-yogurt market — majority-owned by Groupe Danone — is pitching the light-hearted campaign on Facebook to draw folks to a microsite.

Once there, they can virtually assume the identity of a "superhero" and use that persona to explore baby steps that they can take to improve their diet and the sustainability of organic agriculture. Along the way, the brand will kick in a contribution by Stonyfield to FoodCorps, which builds "healhty school food environments in high-obesity, limited-resource communities," as Stonyfield put it in a statement.

"We're making things sensible for people who aren't core organic consumers," Lindsey Seavey, associate brand manager for Stonyfield, told brandchannel. "These are people who might be interested in organics but aren't fully committed. We're taking these folks and making these ideas more accessible to them.

"Our research shows that the concept of small steps really resonates with people. It's harder for them to grasp onto the doom and gloom, detailed, research-rich, data-rich concept of 'this is why you eat organic' — the deep and heavy reasons," Seavey said.

So, for instance, the site's Kale Crusader avatar, or Strawberry Avenger, can choose to get more information about baby stesps such as "Know that ingredients and production methods matter" and "Shop the perimeter [of food stores] to put fewer processed foods into the cart."

There are superhero graphics that say "Shazam!" and "Pow" and, of course, social-media messaging, including having employees this week dress as their food superhero persona for a Facebook pic (at left).

This way, Seavey said, people drawn to the site and the campaign will be encouraged rather than discouraged by some expectation "that they have to make 100-percent right food choices across the kitchen. That's daunting for people. For a variety of reasons, a lot of people can't make such wide changes in their lives."

"We're making this about literally opening your fridge, taking a look at the foods you're eating," she added, "and making incremental, small changes."

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