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Sesame characters tell U.S. kids to eat more colors

National health initiatives are all well and good, but when young kids are the target, it can be extremely difficult to get their attention without a compelling entertainment hook. And that's why non-profit org Produce for Better Health Foundation, which has been trying to get Americans to eat more fruit and veggies since 1988, has joined forces with Sesame Workshop on a new retail promotion called 'Building Blocks for a Colorful Future.'
January 1, 2005

National health initiatives are all well and good, but when young kids are the target, it can be extremely difficult to get their attention without a compelling entertainment hook. And that’s why non-profit org Produce for Better Health Foundation, which has been trying to get Americans to eat more fruit and veggies since 1988, has joined forces with Sesame Workshop on a new retail promotion called ‘Building Blocks for a Colorful Future.’

Starting in April, Sesame Street characters including Elmo and Big Bird will be all over a promotional tool kit PBH distributes to retail partners at every level, from big box chains like Wal-Mart to small mom-and-pop corner stores. Point-of-sale signage, newsletter content for store flyers and audiotapes for use over the stores’ P.A. systems will feature the spokes-characters encouraging kids to eat a wider variety of fruit and veggies that are colored like them. For example, red fruits and vegetables will be tied to Elmo, and greens are the domain of Oscar the Grouch.

Bob Gregg, PBH’s VP of partner marketing, says he’ll also be meeting individually with larger retailers to develop customized ‘Building Blocks’ promotions around key seasons like summer vacation and back-to-school. The three-year campaign is expected to reach 30 million U.S. customers and should help PBH reach its goal of increasing veggie and fruit consumption by 75% before the end of 2010.

The joint-venture represents a coming-together of PBH’s 22-year-old ’5 A Day The Color Way’ initiative and Sesame’s ‘Healthy Habits for Life’ campaign, which has been up and running for a year. Gregg and June Archer, the Workshop’s VP of licensing, agree that the ‘Building Blocks’ campaign will have residual benefits for both non-profit companies, especially from an advertising perspective. ‘To be frank, neither company could do alone what we’re doing together,’ Archer says. ‘PBH brings expertise on delivering a ’5 A Day’ message, and Sesame has a unique and special communication with children.’

PBH is partnering with Sesame Workshop’s existing licensees to give the message even more mileage. So far, the org has hooked up with Sony Wonder, Sesame’s chief DVD partner, to incorporate ’5 A Day’ content into a Healthy Happy Monsters Sesame home video that’s coming out next month. Gregg says PBH and Sony Wonder are working on a retail promotion that will reward kids whose parents buy a predetermined number and mix of fruits and veggies with a free Healthy Happy Monsters CD or DVD. And book publisher Random House has also agreed to insert recipes and ’5 A Day’ messaging into its new Healthy Happy Monsters book line, with a first title slated to debut in July.

Next up, PBH and Sesame will focus on creating ‘Building Blocks’ promotional materials for healthcare professionals and preschool educators. PBH also expects that its grower and manufacturer partners will get more directly involved with the campaign in years two and three.

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