It's a dilemma as old as the first wild stalk of broccoli: How do you get a child to eat it? The latest twist on the ancient battle for kids' gullets is a new campaign by Birds Eye, the frozen-vegetable giant, with Nickelodeon and the Partnership for a Healthier America.
As part of an initiative that launched in May called "GenVeg" — for Generation Vegetable, of course — Bird's Eye is marketing directly to children through a cross-promotional partnership with the popular kids TV show iCarly. The centerpiece of the co-branded campaign is a contest, "iCarly Cooks with Birds Eye," in which kids visiting the Nick.com website will be encouraged to develop wacky new recipes for vegetables. The contest kicked off Monday with a video featuring Jennette McCurdy, one of the stars of the show.
"We're hoping that will add to the cachet with kids, and we're also filming a commercial with kids that will be airing on Nickelodeon," Alan Creveling, Bird's Eye brand manager, told brandchannel. "It's a very Nickelodeon way: putting kids in charge of things."
Of course, with kids "in charge" of their own diets more and more, vegetable consumption has been suffering for generations — a huge and direct contributor to the problem of childhood obesity, for a number of reasons. Including the Nickelodeon initiative, GenVeg is a $6-million marketing commitment by Birds Eye that also entails the company's promise to issue 50 million coupons over the next three years, each offering a 50-percent-or-better discount on its retail prices.
"That will be above and beyond our normal level of couponing," Creveling said.
Nickelodeon, of course, is an old hand at trying to solve the challenge of children's inactivity and obesity levels. It sponsors the long-running "Let's Just Play" platform, for instance, and has partnered with the Clinton Foundation.
As for the contest on Nick, Birds Eye really is hoping that "kids, with their unique lens, will come up with some different products," Creveling said. "We're hoping they come up with recipes and flavors and vegetable combinations that we haven't considered yet."
And because Birds Eye can freeze just about any vegetable combo that's edible, "We're going to use their recipes and ideas and flavor profiles to inspire dishes we eventually put together" for commercialization, Creveling added.
So there's your incentive, kids! Design a new vegetable dish for Birds Eye and you can take everyone on your block to the neighborhood supermarket, point to the freezer case, and say, "Hey, I invented that!"