Seen at the recent Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention, a giant shopping cart motored around the Anaheim Convention Center signifying the official launch of the Growing Forward campaign aimed to donate 1 million pounds of fresh produce to Feeding America member food banks in 2015. The Chicago, IL-based Feeding America partnered with the Soquel, CA-based McDill Associates to garner relationships with players in the produce industry. McDill established this produce-centric cause-marketing initiative to leverage Feeding America’s existing relationships with the produce industry and to spearhead customized marketing programs for participants.
California Giant Berry Farms, Coastline Family Farms, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Frieda’s Specialty Produce, RPE Inc. and SCS Global Services rounded out the first set of sponsors to jumpstart Growing Forward. The six companies participated by donating money and/or produce to the campaign’s launch and will continue to contribute as brand ambassadors.
“The beauty of this program is the flexibility for each participant,” says Lisa Hansen marketing director at McDill Associates. “The real focus of the campaign is to donate a significant amount of produce through Feeding America’s national network, but there are companies that would like to get involve that don’t have product to supply [such as logistics companies or service providers]. It’s our challenge to create ways to engage them, whether it’s through their time, financial contribution, mileage (in terms of logistics) . . . it’s going to take all kinds of companies to join together to ensure fresh produce gets to the 1 in 6 Americans that struggle with hunger.”
The best example to date of how full-scale efforts worked in conjunction with produce players was the Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 campaign. For the second movie installment, the co-promotion included leading fresh produce growers, a national entertainment brand, and Feeding America. “Everything from on-pack, to food trucks, to media events at food banks, to movie premiere events . . . there were all sorts of activation pieces,” says Hansen, who explains that the produce companies involved worked together on events, but also did promotions individually.
“That’s what we are hoping will come to fruition with Growing Forward — companies will come together for a large scale cause-marketing campaign similar to many CPG companies and other types of cause-marketing,” says Hansen. “That was the magic of the Cloudy 2 promotion; by bringing [produce] leaders together and pooling resources, we can make an impact in retail and with consumers.”
For companies interested in joining the cause, Growing Forward currently has three levels of sponsorship. Each requires an initial financial marketing campaign cost, which is used for turnkey branding, promotional assets, packaging design, etc. — everything from social media to on-pack promotions. The more significant give is the actual product donation, which can be distributed incrementally.
Together, Feeding America and its 200 local food banks, meal programs and food panties serve more than 46 million Americans. As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organizations, Feeding America hopes to make produce a more significant piece to solving the hunger puzzle.