The humble vegetable vs. junk food is the culinary David and Goliath battle of our times, and it takes a high-risk punter to vouch for David. The vegetable is often unappetizing, unglamorous and too smug in all its healthy vitamins to be tempting as a snack. Even barring its typical paper bag packaging, eating a vegetable induces a different sensation to gorging on junk food – the satisfaction typically comes after eating as opposed to a Pringle-like “I cannot stop munching” and this tastes amazing right now (confessions of food junkie). Arguably being healthy and pro-veg in our times is good and proper but not cool, and this is where Crispin Porter + Bogusky rise to the challenge. Working for an alliance of 50 carrot farmers, CP+B give carrots attitude.
The idea behind the campaign is a “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach. Rather than berating the consumer for their poor diets and promoting a “healthier for you” message, CP+B decided to position Baby Carrots as a snack food with the kudos, street cred and dynamicism of its junk food competitors. In other words, they branded the carrot, while mocking modern snack marketing in the process. In this David vs. Goliath battle, CP+B broke the rules. They produced an integrated campaign that successfully executed their “eat em’ like junk food” strategy – junk food that has never been so healthy or so fun.
The first surprise is that Baby Carrots packaging looks like a crisp packet (think Wotsits), and admitedly turns my taste-buds on. Yes the carrots look less natural, but this works as a ironic marketing ploy to get consumers buying, particularly those raised on McDonald’s. This makes the carrot more accessible – rather than a grubby, gnarled root vegetable grown on some distant farm, Baby Carrots seems less alien, more of a cheat’s guide to staying healthy. The campaign therefore works because it truly understands its audience and entertains them, rather than emotionally blackmailing them with the sight of a flat stomach or the necessity of “your 5 a day”. Buzzed on the superpower of these bite-sized carrots it will be interesting to see how this “like junk food” positioning develops, particulary as junk food marketing goes in the opposite, “more healthy”, direction.