Forty-nine carrot producers have joined the effort in an alliance
branded "A Bunch of Carrot Farmers." The campaign, by Crispin
Porter & Bogusky, is being test marketed in Cincinnati and
Syracuse, N.Y. and includes TV ads, billboards and packaging. A
microsite promotes special Halloween "Scarrots" and an
iPhone app called Xtreme Xruch Kart, a carrot
crunch-powered video game.
One spot is a science-fiction fantasy featuring an attractive
woman who crunches a carrot as her eyes glow orange. Flashy
packaging includes the tagline, "eat 'em like junk food." In a
national rollout, "Scarrots" packages include glow-in-the dark
temporary tattoos. In short, these are not your grandmother's
The carrots are sold in the produce section but also in store
delis, next to juices, near checkout stands and "everyplace where
consumers are typically gong to grab something to snack on or junk
food," Reese said.
For Mr. Reese, it's perhaps his boldest step in a more than
20-year marketing career that includes time at E.&J. Gallo
Winery. He said it's too early to say if the campaign is working,
but plans are in the works to possibly expand it over the next
Mr. Reese, 41, a graduate of West Point and father of three,
served two stints in Somalia with the Army Corps of Engineers. In a
recent interview, he discussed his marketing approach.
Ad Age: Do you think you can really fool kids
into thinking carrots are junk food?
Mr. Reese: Over the last several years the
[carrot] category has been flat. So we asked ourselves what is
holding us back. And our sense is that this rational approach for
communicating the health benefits of carrots clearly isn't working
and what we were missing is an emotional connection.
With that in mind we developed this idea of who's doing it
right. You don't have to look very far in the junk-food world to
find people who have found ways to get people to consume their
products even though they're not healthy and they're not good for
you and in many cases not even all that affordable. So our strategy
was to take pages out of their marketing book when it comes to
especially very technical things like bright packaging and exciting
promotions and finding interesting ways to deliver our product to
Ad Age: You used to be a marketer for E.&J.
Gallo Winery. Compare selling wine and carrot juice.
Mr. Reese: You end up in categories where there
are a whole lot of players. There are a whole lot of companies that
are in the game and a whole lot of brands and products competing
for consumer dollars so the need to communicate points of
difference and create more emotional connections with consumers is
more prevalent versus categories without a lot of brands, like you
could argue the produce industry.
Ad Age: So you don't see yourselves as a
Mr. Reese: We see ourselves as more of a
snack-food company. That's relatively new. That has come with our
shift in how we want to think about the carrot category.
Ad Age: Do you think the snack-food companies
should watch their backs?
Mr. Reese: I'm sure they are not necessarily
quaking in their boots, [but] we see them as a competitor,
Ad Age: Your "Bom Dia" Acai berry juice
products make several nutritional claims, such as fighting "free
radicals." Other marketers have been warned by the Federal Trade
Commission for claiming the juice helps people lose weight and
fight cancer. Where do you draw the line?
Mr. Reese: We draw the line on number one, what
has proven scientific evidence, and number two, what the FDA and
the FTC say are approved ways to talk about the potential health
benefits of our product. Acai has measurable, significant
antioxidant properties and that's what we focus on.
Ad Age: Any lessons from your time in the
military that apply to marketing?
Mr. Reese: It's the ability to not only be able
to develop appropriate strategies but to translate them into
detailed actions that are going to be required to achieve those is
something that I learned in the military.
Ad Age: Have you ever been on a tractor?
Mr. Reese: When I'm on a tractor I'm sort of
taking a ride, I'm getting an appreciation for what the agriculture
side of our business does every day, which is just amazing, and I
love to be a part of it. But my role is more on the demand-creation
side. My role is to make sure they have a lot that they need to