Michelle Obama's New Veggie Pitch Includes Celebrity Ads

First First Lady-Backed Nonprofit Launches Fruits and Vegetables 'Brand'

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Michelle Obama's Partnership for a Healthier America is embracing old-school ad tactics in an attempt to push fruits and veggies.

The organization has formed an unlikely coalition of consumer packaged-goods companies, trade groups, nonprofits and the WWE to fund a new "brand" called FNV that will promote produce via a star-studded, multi-million-dollar ad campaign.

"FNV was inspired by big consumer brands, whose tactics are relentless, compelling, catchy and drive an emotional connection with their products," PHA CEO Lawrence Soler said in a statement. "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."

The First Lady, who is the honorary chairwoman of the nonprofit partnership, was scheduled to announced the initiative on Thursday during a keynote at PHA's "Building a Healthier Future" summit in Washington, D.C., according to a spokeswoman for the Victors & Spoils ad agency. The Colorado-based shop was hired by PHA to create the campaign, which will include digital, print, outdoor and sponsorships of youth sports leagues and teams.

Celebrities expected to appear in the campaign include WWE star John Cena, musician Nick Jonas, actors Kristen Bell and Jessica Alba and a range of pro athletes including Victor Cruz, Stephen Curry, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.

A "teaser" video (above) includes some of the stars and declares that "America is about to get a healthy dose of advertising." One stand-alone ad featuring Mr. Newton states: "This carefully chosen celebrity wants you to eat more oranges."

"Using our freshly-minted list of celebrity endorsers, we'll look to roll out in-your-face marketing tactics that go toe-to-toe with other big iconic brands," Andrew Nathan, chief marketing officer for Victors & Spoils said in a statement. "The days of hum-drum health messages and finger-wagging PSAs are over."

The spokeswoman declined to reveal specific spending figures but said the investment will fuel a "multi-million dollar campaign." The PHA is still seeking more donors, she said.

So far funders include Campbell Soup Co. via its Bolthouse Farms division, which markets carrots and fresh beverages and salad dressings. Avocados From Mexico, an avocado industry marketing arm, is also on board, as is The Honest Company, which was founded by Ms. Alba and sells vitamins, personal care products and more. The WWE also signed on.

Other organizations listed as supporters include Produce for Better Health, Produce Marketing Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The full list of backers is here. The campaign will run nationally, including in two "lead markets" this spring: Fresno, Calif. and Hampton Roads, Va.

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