|Nutrition Campaign History
In 1971, the United States Potato Board was established to defend the reputation of potatoes, to reverse negative attitudes and to renew America’s love affair with the humble spud. Over the years, there have been varied levels of emphasis placed on nutrition, as consumer concern ebbed and flowed. However, for the past six years, nutrition has stood front-and -center in all of the USPB’s domestic marketing work.
Healthy Potato Campaign
The healthful goodness of potatoes was called into scrutiny by some nutritionists and “low-carb” diet advocates at the front end of the 2000s. Consumers were inundated by a flurry of nutrition misinformation, and their attitudes about potato nutrition began to decline, sharply. The USPB responded swiftly with the development of the Healthy Potato Campaign. Research showed attitudes changed almost immediately when consumers read the nutrition label and the message generating strongest consumer responsiveness was: “Potatoes: A Great Source of Essential Vitamins and Minerals.”
The US potato industry rallied behind this nutrition campaign resurrection, supporting the February 2004 public launch of the USPB Healthy Potato Campaign. It was an aggressive, multi-tiered publicity program, which used the “Skinny Potato” ad to, literally, put the label at the center of all USPB communication—publicity, nutrition and scientific outreach, foodservice and retail. Even with a modest budget, the ad was placed in high-profile publications to gain the attention of media and nutrition opinion leaders. This strategy generated astonishing results, as consumer and nutrition reporters and editors were primed to tell the story about the humble spud fighting back.
Healthy MR. POTATO HEAD™ Campaign
In November 2005, the second phase of the USPB Nutrition Campaign launched…in the form of a balloon. Healthy MR. POTATO HEAD provided another significant news platform to communicate potato nutrition, such as a medium, 5-1/2 oz. potato contains more potassium than a banana and almost half the daily value for vitamin C. This ever-beloved character, licensed from Hasbro®, adopted a new, active lifestyle and made his national debut flying high above Manhattan in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, all aimed at reminding Americans of the important role potatoes play in a healthy diet.
The three-year partnership with Hasbro enabled the USPB and many industry organizations to leverage the character in sustained publicity and retail promotions. Nutrition education programs featured a costumed Healthy MR. POTATO HEAD making appearances at health and fitness assemblies, along with visits to lunchrooms, which helped build on fitness and nutrition messages so prevalent in schools. “Potato Power” was added to the collection of nutrition messages, even becoming the title of a song-and-dance video distributed in classrooms and on-line.
“Potatoes…Goodness Unearthed®” was introduced in 2008, marking the third and most current iteration of the nutrition campaign. In the first five years, more than 1 billion impressions were generated on behalf of potato nutrition. To put that into context, it would be as if every person living in the United States had the opportunity to read, hear or see the specific potato nutrition message at least three times over five years. The campaign earned USPB a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America and Hasbro’s® “Outstanding Marketing Partner of the Year” in 2007.
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