A sign in the produce section of the grocery caught me by surprise: “Disney apples, XX per pound.” Disney apples? I looked down and, sure enough, there were Woody and Buzz hawking not only apples but a mixed fruit medley. Just when I thought Disney characters had covered every product category (toys? check. waffle irons? check. paint? check), I realize I had missed one.
I wonder now why it even surprised me. I’ve been buying vegetables from a jolly green giant and cookies from elves; so why not apples from a toy astronaut?
Apparently Disney is on a mission to associate itself with wholesomeness, and heaven knows the US (especailly Alabama) could use some encouragement to eat more healthfully. Although I’ve learned Disney began branding produce a few years ago, this is the first time I’ve seen it in our market. I wondered, though, how effective character-branded fruit would be after I had pulled it from the bag and displayed it in a bowl. Would it seem any more appealing then on account of its Disneyassociation?
Each piece of fruit does have a tiny character sticker on it, which led me to wonder whether this was an incredible piece of marketing to enhance the fruit-eating experience or if any slight differentiation would cause discord (“No, I want the Woody apple, not the Pooh one!”). Most moms I know purchase produce based on its quality and price, not its packaging. However, if a sticker can make a banana more appetizing, I’m slapping stickers on all my fruit from now on. Make that vegetables, too.
There are inherent limitations for Disney in branding fruit. For one thing, would you ever bite into a Snow White or Sleeping Beauty-endorsed apple? Not if you remember how their poor fruit judgment caused all their troubles. And it goes without saying that the evil step queen/witch couldn’t sell anything for consumption.
If Disney wants to help the obesity epidemic and encourage healthier choices, maybe its next movie villian should offer a mega supersized value meal to its unwitting victim. But what am I saying? I’m the one sitting there eating my way through a tub of buttered popcorn and a large soda.