NCI recruits PN to tell Americans to eat their veggies

WASHINGTON: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is stepping up its "5 a Day for Better Health" program, aimed at increasing vegetable consumption among Americans, and Porter Novelli has emerged as its choice to lead the $3.5-million-a-year effort.

WASHINGTON: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is stepping up its "5 a Day for Better Health" program, aimed at increasing vegetable consumption among Americans, and Porter Novelli has emerged as its choice to lead the $3.5-million-a-year effort.

The program, which launched in 1991 when PN was the NCI's agency of record, encourages people of all ages to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily in order to decrease the risk of cancer and other diseases.

PN shepherded the program through it's first nine years, but it did not bid for the NCI contract in 2000.

This year marks the first in which the program has been allocated funds to hire its own communications agency, so PN is once again taking the reigns.

The three-year effort devotes $2.4 million in its first year solely to reaching African-American men between the ages of 35 and 50, who the NCI considers to be among the greatest at risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.

Among the many new tactics for reaching that audience are partnerships with black-owned media. NCI is also launching a program called "Talk to Your Man" in which women will be encouraged to discuss diet changes with their husbands, fathers, or brothers.

The other million dollars will be devoted to general outreach. Children will be targeted through schools, and adult males will be targeted through earned media and advertising. Adult women, according to program director Lorelei DiSogra, have been disproportionately receptive during the first 11 years of the campaign, leading NCI to concentrate on other audiences for now.

The campaign is expected to launch during February for Black History Month. The RFP, issued in June, was met with a "huge" response from both large and small agencies, said DiSogra.

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