Because our world now seems unable to spin without an affixed logo, Disney has become a regular presence in your local supermarket’s produce aisle. The Washington Post recently wrote on Disney’s successful move from being an advocate of unhealthy foods (its McDonald’s Happy Meal’s contract ended in 2006) to its recent and increasing association with healthy ones. Disney gets to play the good guy, build brand recognition and relationships, and make a great profit.
“The backlash Disney had felt from tempting kids with french fries was replaced by a pat on the back for advertising on oranges. Now, there are more than 250 offerings in the Disney Garden line, at least one of which is available in 18 of the top 20 mass and grocery retailers in the United States. Sales grew 70 percent in 2008 over the previous year, thanks to expanding offerings.”
All this feel-good branding does comes at a price though, and that Daisy Duck bag of celery will cost you more than the plain, unendorsed variety. Of course, that’s great news for Disney: “According to Gatewood, the food segment of the Disney Consumer Products Group predicts double-digit percentage growth relative to last year, whereas other merchandising units will likely decline.”
It’s hard enough to find unbranded versions of almost any child-related items (diapers, bottles, clothing, toys, just to name a few), but come on, cartoon-stamped eggs? Really? Do we need to turn fruits and vegetables into another “But I want the Mickey Mouse ones!” battleground? And do we really want kids to learn that you buy, eat or enjoy food because of a cartoon character’s ‘endorsement’? Whatever happened to food itself and to the pleasure of eating?
It makes me wonder when Disney will promote its own line of funeral services- then the cradle-to-grave Disney marketing cycle truly will be complete.