Grain group begins $2.7m pro-bread push

RIDGEWAY, CO: A pro-bread group has kicked off a $2.7 million PR campaign to combat the low-carb movement and remind consumers that bread should be part of a healthy diet.

RIDGEWAY, CO: A pro-bread group has kicked off a $2.7 million PR campaign to combat the low-carb movement and remind consumers that bread should be part of a healthy diet.

The Grain Foods Foundation is working with integrated agency Mullen on the effort, which began earlier this month when street teams handed out informative literature about bread in New York and Washington, DC, said Jennifer Burke, a VP and account director with the Massachusetts-based firm.

The campaign also includes a partnership with the March of Dimes and a new website, www.grainpower.org.

The foundation is seeking a physicians group to partner with so that it can convey its messages to the medical community.

Media outreach efforts will target food and nutrition writers. The agency will have six to seven people working on the account.

The foundation was formed last year by members of the milling and baking industries to combat the bad reputation the low-carb movement had given bread and other grain products. It has 91 corporate members and five industry trade association members.

Members decided to spend most of their budget on PR - an additional $800,000 is going to advertising - because they felt that "for the amount of money we have, PR is the better way to connect with consumers," said president Judi Adams.

Even with the low-carb trend waning, the foundation is concerned that the negative image bread received will remain in the public consciousness.

A recent Harris survey found that only 12% of Americans said they think of bread as a healthy food, Burke noted. It also reported that nearly one in five women ages 35 to 44 consider bread fattening and unhealthy.

"Low-carb has clearly not only damaged bread's reputation, but has clouded consumers' common sense," Burke said.

The new PR effort, called "Bread, It's Essential" will promote all types of breads, not just the whole-grain products some health advocates recommend.

"Our perspective is, 'Don't count out white bread,'" Burke said. Vitamin-enriched white breads also have public health benefits, she explained.

"The number one thing we're hoping to get out to the public is the need to return to some common sense when it comes to nutrition," said Adams.

The foundation intends to continue its efforts for several years, with the budget for 2006 exceeding this year's $2.7 million, said Adams.

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