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Trick kids into eating baby carrots by branding them as junk food

A picture of a bill board branding baby carrots as junk food
Ryan Morden
Ads that brand baby carrots like they're junk food are showing up around Syracuse. This billboard is on Erie Blvd E, near S Beach St.

Syracuse is one of two test markets for a new national ad campaign called “eat em like junk food.” The concept is simple enough. Brand baby carrots like they're Cheetos or Doritos to get more people to choose vegetables over junk food.

The billboard is a bit static compared to its companion ads across other media. For example,  Bolthouse Farms is also running commercials and launched a very loud website (complete with a “carrot crunch powered” game).

The Post-Standard asked Bryan Reese, chief marketing officer for Bolthouse Farms, if Syracuse was selected as a test market because of Syracuse University.

Reese laughingly says no, the real reason is two fold: They have a great relationship with Wegmans and they needed “a market that was representative of an average-to-above-average carrot consumption market in the United States.” Syracuse apparently fits the bill. Cincinnati is the other test market.

Ad psychologist Carol Moog tells USA Today that the campaign might be hedging too much on the junk food shtick.

“Kids may be disappointed to find all the flashy ads are really just for carrots. [Moog] says they need to make carrots more fun — like, perhaps, putting an orange (but natural) dusting on carrots that mimics Cheetos.”

Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeff Dunn said in a statement that there’s a strong zeitgeist around healthy snacking and now is a good time to try change the face of the baby carrot industry.

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies. Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project. Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.