Effectiveness Awards: How Adam&EveDDB and ITV got kids eating more veg
The campaign generated a 2.2 per cent uplift in sales and won this year's President's Prize
11 October 2022
In 2016, childhood obesity was declared a national emergency by the UK Government. This was a problem underlined by the fact that by 2018 Brits were eating fewer vegetables than in the 1980s, despite upwards of £222m of recent governmental campaigns advocating their benefits.
To combat this, ITV and VegPower tasked adam&eveDDB to develop a strategy that would get primary school children eating more vegetables. Knowing that children hated vegetables with a passion, adam&eveDDB developed their ‘big, silly idea’ that veggies were evil and trying to take over the world. It was up to the children to ‘Eat Them to Defeat Them’.
Following an initial donation of £2m of ITV airtime, the campaign formed partnerships with 11 major supermarkets, Britain’s largest vegetable brand, Birds Eye, four media titles and eight media owners, over 100 influencers and 1,900 schools to cover production costs and ultimately contribute media space worth £12.5mover the three years of the campaign.
Using TV as a main driver of reach to open kids’ eyes to the veggies’ dastardly plot, adam&eveDDB also created a Veg of the Week ‘Battle Plan’ to provide partners with a clear direction of which enemy to promote when, used OOH to show evil vegetables taking over our high streets and worked with influencers including Ant and Dec. They also developed lesson plans and recipes to engage with children directly at meal times.
The principal authors were Will Grundy and Luke Williams from adam&eveDDB. Contributing authors were Annabel Barratt, Amrit Dhadwal and Susie Braun from ITV; from a&eDDB Les Binet, Heather Alderson, Hugh de Winton and Sara Keegan; from Food Foundation Jo Ralling and Dan Parker.
In addition to its commercial success, including £98.1m in incremental sales at a ROMI of £6.34, ‘Eat Them to Defeat Them’ has driven a remarkable change of attitude among those the campaign reached. The number of children wanting to eat more vegetables increased by 54%, ultimately leading to the consumption of an incremental 981 million portions of vegetables.
Other key results:
• ‘Eat Them to Defeat Them’ generated a 2.2% uplift in sales of vegetables, nearly 5x the initial target.
• The number of children agreeing that eating vegetables can be fun increased by 19%.
• The campaign drove consumption of an additional 39,241 tons of vegetables over three years.
Annabel Barratt, Senior Manager, Social Purpose, ITV
At ITV we believe in shaping culture for good. As one of the nation’s best-loved and most-watched entertainment companies, we believe we have a responsibility to use our reach and position to affect positive behaviour change. That ethos flows through everything we do, and Eat Them to Defeat Them is a prime example of it in action - resulting, as this paper demonstrates, in the consumption of close to a billion additional portions of vegetables.
It has confirmed our belief in 3 principles:
1. A precise and human understanding of audience barriers.
Eat Them to Defeat Them has been so successful because it placed a laser focus on our audience of vegetable-dodging kids. We, together with our agency partners, invested time and effort to really understand their mindset. This audience-first approach is at the heart of everything we do, and leads to powerfully resonant behaviour change campaigns.
2. A strong bias for fame and entertainment.
Eat Them to Defeat Them is an unapologetically entertaining behaviour change campaign built on long-established but infrequently-practiced principles of high reach, high fame, high enjoyment and (as a result) high engagement. Again, this sits at the heart of all our behaviour change efforts: we create ideas that get the nation talking and doing, at scale.
3. An enduring belief in the power of partnership.
Eat Them to Defeat Them is the result of a coalition of organisations - brands, media, advertisers and the creative sector - collaborating to help solve one of the most pressing issues we face. The impact of the campaign - its reach and its multiplicity of touchpoints - simply could not have been achieved otherwise. We are grateful to all those who contributed to making this campaign such a success, and now embrace the power of partnership in the vast majority of our behaviour change efforts.
Harjot Singh, Convenor of Judges and Global Chief Strategy Officer at McCann
The judges found this paper to be a textbook example of identifying a problem, setting objectives, pulling on insight and research, and ultimately driving behaviour change. Empathy and understanding of the young audience was evident and impressively applied. It is a great example of generating positive change with brand communications (and one which parents in the judging room particularly applauded). Congratulations to adam&eveDDB for an outstanding paper.”
Heather Clark, Senior Vice-President, Mass, Direct and Digital Marketing, SickKids and Client Judge
I thought it was such a great way to pull out a human truth, specifically for kids, to help get them to eat more vegetables and then taking that very silly, yet powerful idea, and pulling it across every communications channel. And as a mother who is constantly trying to get my three kids to eat vegetables, it is such a great tool for parents.”