Friday, September 28

Elmo Chooses Apples

It doesn't take a super hero to notice that using popular pop-culture characters as part of a brand experience can certainly help sell products.  Almost every major studio releases of an action adventure film comes complete with an entire roster of brands that co-promote.  We see this in the cereal aisle, as well as in cookies, snacks, candy ... a whole host of food categories and beyond.

So why not fruit?  Fruit!

If such promotions help sell packaged goods, why wouldn't they help sell apples and oranges and bananas?

Some folks at my alma mater, Cornell University, conducted a test to see and you know what ... they found out that Elmo can help sell apples too!  That's right, in a comprehensive study, researchers found that children did in fact choose apples with stickers of Elmo on them over cookies.

Well, it kind of makes sense.  In many cases, the kids are not thinking necessarily about what they feel like eating.  They are merely reacting, with all of their senses, to what they see around them.  They are reacting to a brand experience.  If there's a familiar character that they love attracting their attention, why wouldn't they reach out and want to be a part of it?  In this case, the brand has added value beyond just the product, making it a better choice.

Beyond the obvious, I think the lesson here is that observing and leveraging marketing tactics that work in one category (packaged goods) and applying them to another (fresh fruits and vegetables) is a good thing ... like I always say, "marketing is a spectator sport!"  Or as I've heard many a marketer say, "search and reapply!"

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

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