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Chapter 17
Marketing Baby Carrots Like Junk Food
Can marketing encourage people to snack on baby carrots as if they were junk food? That’s what
California-based Bolthouse Farms has set out to do, with the help of Colorado advertising agency
Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Bolthouse CEO Jeff Dunn, a former Coca-Cola marketing executive,
remembers thinking that his firm’s baby carrots are “a perfect snack”—low-calorie, inexpensive,
good tasting, and nutritious. “But people aren’t eating as much of them as we’d like. So what do
we do?”
Crispin’s advertising experts told Dunn that baby carrots have a lot in common with junk food.
“They’re neon orange, they’re crunchy, they’re dippable, they’re kind of addictive,” said Omid
Farhang, the agency’s creative director. Baby carrots may be healthy, but Dunn wanted to avoid
messages that discuss nutrition, which he calls “the rational approach.” Instead, the agency aimed
to reposition baby carrots by emphasizing their eat-anywhere, bite-size snackability and
associating them with skateboarding and other popular, contemporary activities. “It’s about
getting baby carrots into a different category,” says Crispin’s CEO.
What baby carrots needed was the right positioning, messages, packaging, and distribution. A
new campaign was born. Crispin created a catchy slogan: “Baby carrots: Eat ’em like junk food.”
Next, they designed a flashy new bag, much like the packaging that chips come in, with a window
so buyers can see that they’re buying fresh vegetables. It set up a Twitter account and YouTube
channel to reach out to social media-savvy consumers, tested three TV commercials, and printed
store displays promoting baby carrots as “the original orange doodle.” Also, the agency developed
colorful baby carrot vending machines that resemble the machines used to sell chips and other
snacks. Finally, it posted engaging online content, marketing baby carrots with fun games and
apps.
During test-marketing, Bolthouse found that its sales in the test cities were as much as 12
percent higher than its sales in non–test-markets. The vending machines sold as many as 90 snack
packs each week, and a number of schools called about putting the machines in cafeteria areas. In
short, baby carrot snacks were beginning to catch on.
To keep the campaign fresh, Crispin added new online content and designed additional
packaging alternatives to catch the eye of shoppers. Meanwhile, Bolthouse experiments with new
flavored baby carrots, following the lead of snack marketers that add flavors to their basic chips
or pretzels. This variety gives novelty-seekers more options and may even win over snackers who
prefer flavored carrots to plain ones. Other vegetable and fruit marketers are paying close attention
because the marketing that makes baby carrots appealing as junk food could very well work for
apples and other foods.
Baby carrots aren’t going to replace every other snack food on the shelf, but sales are growing
little by little as more consumers get the message. For example, U.S. consumers buy millions of
bags of chips, order millions of pizza slices, and stock up on fizzy soft drinks for Super Bowl
Sunday. Lately, however, baby carrots are starting to score: Bolthouse Farms now ships 28 percent
more baby carrots during the week leading up to the Super Bowl than in an ordinary week.i
CASE QUESTIONS
1. Which is likely to be more effective—marketing baby carrots to young consumers or to parents
of young consumers? Why?
2. Does the marketing of baby carrots raise any social or temporal dilemmas?
3. Is there a potential “dark side” to marketing baby carrots as junk food?
4. Do you agree with this strategy of marketing baby carrots as junk food instead of as a healthy
snack? Explain your answer.
i
Valerie Bauerlein, “Carrots Vie for a Spot on Game Day,” Wall Street Journal, February 2,
2012, www.wsj.com; David Wright and Mary Marsh, “Baby Carrots: The Next Snack Food?”
ABC News, February 7, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com; and Douglas McGray, “How Carrots
Became the New Junk Food,” Fast Company, April 1, 2011, www.fastcompany.com.

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