Selling Broccoli

by Anne Bennett on November 5, 2013

broccoli poodle 97 million acres are planted in the U.S. with corn, which is eventually used for high-fructose corn syrup (Coca Cola & Pepsi); cattle feed (for all those cows that eventually become MacDonald’s hamburgers); and ethanol (which is used for fuel by nobody I know).

Can you guess how many acres are planted with spinach, broccoli and cabbage?  That’s three different vegetables, so the acreage must be exponentially greater than for just corn, wouldn’t you think?

How wrong you would be: those healthier vegetables take up no more than 240,000 acres. Why? Because they’re not nearly as profitable, not by a long shot.

BroccoliLast week’s New York Times Magazine ran a cover story about how a successful advertising agency was given the task of marketing broccoli. The problem, the advertisers found, was this: despite the fact that broccoli provides many health benefits, Americans will not buy something just because it’s good for them. They have to want to buy it. And that’s the crux — how to make people want broccoli as much as they want junk-food.

You can tell where I’m going with this, can’t you? There’s just no way to market a green vegetable that people tend to overcook until it smells like the dog farted in the kitchen. But the admen & women came up with a pretty snazzy marketing strategy.

They picked a fight with the newest uber-vegetable, kale, and created billboards and mottos that lauded broccoli’s virtues and vilified kale by asking, “Since when do super foods have to be super trendy?”

Although the ad campaign was fictitious, the article made one point very clear: people tend to purchase food based to a great extent on what is marketed to them. Most of what is marketed to Americans is making us obese and even ill. How do we get people to buy more produce?

I wish I had the answer, because the person who successfully addresses that question will bring home some major bacon.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlene November 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

The broccoli poodle helps. I have fallem into the kale trend. I roast it. it is nice and crispy.


Laurie November 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

They need beautiful produce departments a la Fresh Market. They need demonstrations / tastings of how to cook the various vegetables right in the grocery stores a la Costco. The “war” should be waged in the grocery stores and maybe on the sidewalk outside the grocery stores. OK there you have it………I’ll have my bacon lean, center cut, and crispy, please.

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