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Dole gets funky with its new kids campaign

Marketer: Dole Fresh Fruit Company, Westlake Village, California-Rick Utchell, VP of advertising, promotions and trade relations
Agency: Daniels and Roberts, Boca Raton, Florida-Daniel Muggeo, agency executive producer; Judy Eisinger, creative director; Amy Scharf, account director
Market: U.S. national
The idea: The...
May 1, 2001

Marketer: Dole Fresh Fruit Company, Westlake Village, California-Rick Utchell, VP of advertising, promotions and trade relations

Agency: Daniels and Roberts, Boca Raton, Florida-Daniel Muggeo, agency executive producer; Judy Eisinger, creative director; Amy Scharf, account director

Market: U.S. national

The idea: The Dole Banana Shuffle concept aims to raise the level of overall awareness of Dole bananas among kids ages two to 11 (the biggest banana purchase influencers) and moms (the primary household buyers). Specifically, Dole is seeking brand recognition among kids. The campaign hinges on starting a dance craze starring Bobby Banana, Dole Banana’s signature character.

The campaign: The Dole Banana Shuffle project consists of an integrated multichannel program on national cable TV, with a 30-second spot kicking off May 14 and running until June 11. A national retail promotion plan will follow-breaking May 20-consisting of FSIs, in-store POS displays, Internet marketing and a national in-school program.

The strategy: Kids relate to icons and characters. They know who the Quik bunny is; they hear Honey Nut Cheerios and think bee. But what do kids conjure up when they think bananas? Dole wants them to think of Bobby Banana doing the Dole Banana Shuffle. The company’s North American market share (for 2000 and Q1 of this year) is more than 5% higher than Chiquita’s-its primary competitor in that market. In hopes of increasing that lead through to 2002, Dole decided to go with a kid-targeted approach. The move jibes with Dole Fresh Fruit’s strategic objective of seizing lifetime brand loyalty from consumers by starting young-a goal founded on the following incontrovertible facts: Kids have an enormous influence on household purchases; parents tend to buy what they know their kids will eat; and kids are the next generation of banana buyers.

‘In creating this campaign, our aim was to produce a memorable dance routine and tune, leaving children with the mindset that bananas are not just good for you, they’re also fun,’ says Rick Utchell. The Shuffle song and dance were fine-tuned by focus group research conducted at just under 100 U.S. schools in 1999. ‘We hired a professional choreographer who visited several gym classes,’ says Utchell. ‘During her sessions, she taught the students a variety of dance routines, including the Banana Shuffle, to get an unbiased feel for how kids took to the steps.’ Changes to the dance were made following feedback, and the response for the final tweaked routine was highly favorable. Kids showed interest in the Shuffle and were able to pick up the dance easily, finding the music catchy.

The campaign’s TV ad-airing on ABC, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and CBS-features an animated Bobby Banana and a group of real elementary school kids performing the Dole Banana Shuffle in a school auditorium. The song-and-dancesters entreat the audience to participate, and straightforward instructional lyrics urge other kids to ‘shuffle your way to a healthy day.’

Reaching more than 55 million homes via a national run in major Sunday newspapers for each metropolitan area, an insert offers kids a package (US$10.95) featuring a singing Bobby Banana plush toy that plays the Banana Shuffle song. An instructional CD-ROM (similar to the TV spot, teaching kids how to do the Shuffle), the Dole 5 A Day Adventures nutritional education CD-ROM, and US$6 worth of Dole product coupons will also be included. The plush promotion was inspired by Dole’s Mini Plush promotion (fall 1999), which sold out with more than 55,000 doll sets purchased by consumers in 30 days. Another Jello/Dole FSI-running June 24 nationally in key papers for a total circulation of 20 million-will also include the plush promo. In-store POS materials (tear pads and pricer cards), in addition to the Dole Bobby Banana subsite on www.dole.com, will support the promotion.

Extending itself into the classroom, Dole is running an in-school contest via a promotion flyer placed in the banana boxes sent to Dole Fresh Fruit Food Service customers in U.S. elementary schools. Schools can enter by sending in videotapes of students performing the Dole Banana Shuffle. The grand prize-winning school receives US$5,000 in equipment for the school’s food service department, and the 250 second-place prize winners will get a Bobby Banana school visit, plus a free lunch. Winners will be randomly drawn.

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