Commercial partners for social marketing initiatives?

This is an interesting story (‘Disney to advertise on fruit’).

By Jacob Adelman, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – Mickey Mouse, SpongeBob and the Tasmanian Devil are coming to a produce aisle near you.

The cartoon characters are popping up on fruit and vegetable packaging across the country as growers strike licensing deals with entertainment companies hungry to cultivate positive images among health-conscious parents and kids.

Walt Disney Co., with its overwhelming cartoon capital and cultural clout, is the most significant entry in the produce business.

The entertainment giant is licensing characters to Indianapolis-based produce distributor Imagination Farms LLC, which has deals with 15 large growers across the country to provide fruits and vegetables for the Disney Garden brand.

As fruit and vegetable marketing has struggled along competing against well-financed junk food producers, is this a why-not-sooner solution? Seems so to me on first glance.

What are the potential negatives of an initiative like this?

Here‘s the rest of the story.

Here’s another perspective:

I have followed the discussion of Disney to advertise on fruit with some interest. Although I strongly believe in kids eating more fruit – I don’t believe in any tactic possible to achieve that end. The Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention and others around the world are working very hard to ensure Sustainable Consumption practices are integrated into modern North American lifestyles. Increased exposure to corporate images is not one of the tactics I believe will lead to healthy eating and healthy lifestyles over all and for the long-term. In this case I worry about who Disney might have opened the door for?

I have included a short quote from our new Sustainable Consumption publication for youth. It will be available in it’s entirety next month on

“Youth are bombarded by marketing campaigns trying to sell identity and image through products. Buying products for status creates obstacles to sustainable consumption. Understanding how marketing, consumption and the environment interconnect will help you make smart choices in a sea of advertising pressures.” Consume This – Buying That Matters (2006)

Kady Cowan
Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention

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