Will Rebranding Fruits and Vegetables to FNV Make Kids Go For Beets Over Beats?


Breaking news from the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Summit in Washington, D.C. today: Parents, stop begging your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. They’re now called FNV (yo).

In a cringeworthy attempt to make produce hipper, the public/private PHA, a spinoff of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, is hoping that FNV, a Salt-N-Pepa-like acronym for Fruits ‘n’ Veggies, will make America’s emoji-spinning, text-savvy youth mind their peas and carrots (and eat them, too).

Like generations of parents before them, they’ve got their work—getting kids to choose beets over Beats—cut out for them.[more]

Announcing the FNV brand with an AP story followed by a press release, the public service push involves brands, celebrity moms (Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell) and athletes from the NBA, NFL and WWE.

The Partnership for a Healthier America’s integrated marketing campaign naturally relies heavily on social media to get its message across, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube in addition to its own website.

“FNV seeks to create a cultural movement behind fruits and vegetables—one that parents will want to support, celebrities will seek to endorse and kids will find intriguing enough to get behind,” stated Andrew Nathan, CMO for the agency behind the campaign, Victors & Spoils.

Other celebs waving the FNV public service campaign banner include NFL stars Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Victor Cruz, WWE wrestler John Cena and NBA star Stephen Curry, as well as singer Nick Jonas.

“Using our freshly minted list of celebrity endorsers,” Nathan said (pun, no doubt, intended), “we’ll look to roll out in-your-face marketing tactics that go toe-to-toe with other big iconic brands. The days of hum-drum health messages and finger-wagging PSAs are over.”

That’s a lot of body parts—but taking a cue from big brand marketers such as PepsiCo and Dannon, both of which also spoke at the Summit this week, should give legs to the effort, which includes a logo (of course) and Instagram-ready videos and graphics featuring the campaign’s brand ambassadors.

The choice of Cena caught the attention of WWE fans, as the longtime wrestling star is trying to extend his personal brand through charitable work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen breast cancer cause and military initiatives, even while fans (including on a Twitter chat today) are urging Cena’s wrestling persona to get tougher.

Cena has been accused by WWE devotees of selling out and going soft with his personal philanthropic endeavors, recalling former rival Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s move to re-embrace the sport to regain his cred after “going Hollywood.”

New mom Kristen Bell, meanwhile, is shown in a bus shelter ad (“Kids might love their moms, but they listen to celebrities”) while Jessica Alba’s “Beets” poster is heading to grocery stores.

Brands supporting the FNV campaign include Campbell Soup’s Bolthouse Farms, a pro at carrot-vs-stick marketing; The Honest Company, Alba’s lifestyle brand whose products include vitamins and supplements as well as baby- and personal-care items; and Avocados From Mexico, coming off its first Super Bowl campaign.

“FNV was inspired by big consumer brands, whose tactics are relentless, compelling, catchy and drive an emotional connection with their products,” said PHA president and CEO Lawrence Soler. “We want to do the same thing for fruits and veggies, which have never had an opportunity to act like a big brand—until now.”

Finger-wagging was about all parents could do for decades as they sought to get their kids to “eat your fruits and vegetables.” But kids’ lack of interest became more serious as childhood obesity levels skyrocketed in the US—and even the most ironic hipster t-shirt isn’t likely to make eating healthier cool.

Undaunted, the Partnership for a Healthier America is determined to give the social-first FNV platform its all, building on its mission since being founded in 2010 as an independent spin-off of Let’s Move!, with FLOTUS also on hand at the PHA Summit today celebrating her organization’s fifth anniversary.

Of course, the First Lady has made it her personal mission to make veggies part of pop culture, including her “Turnip for What” Vine video that went viral last year.

She has also been putting pressure on the US food industry—from Walmart to McDonald’s and the entire restaurant industry to consumer packaged goods companies—to encourage families to order, buy and eat their FNV.

As a result, in addition to putting apples in Happy Meals, lettuce in Walmart stores and calorie counts on menus and signs, witness the growing array of pouch-based products from brands such as Plum Organics, GoGo Squeez and Peter Rabbit Organics as a sign of the times.

On the plus side, kids may welcome “FNV” as an alternative to remembering whether fruit or fruits is grammatically acceptable as a plural form.

Below, FNV’s signs of the times in the new “Prepare to be Marketed to” campaign: