The relationship between the Cancer Research Campaign and the food
chain Iceland dates from January 1996 when the CRC noticed from its
research that many UK children were not eating their reccommended five
portions of fruit or vegetables a day. They launched a three-year joint
campaign called ’Eat smarter, eat more vegetables’, which was
kick-started by Gary Lineker.
But to give more impetus to the second year of the campaign, CRC
director general Professor Gordon McVie devised a way of making
vegetables more palatable to children by disguising the real taste with
foods which children do like to eat.
To launch the range of flavoured vegetables with child-appeal, raise the
awareness among families with children and increase Iceland’s frozen
Before the product was launched, taste tests with parents and kids were
carried out in Wales and the north-west of England. Rejected flavours
included bubble gum-flavoured broccoli and toffee apple-flavoured
The winners included pizza-flavoured sweetcorn and chocolate-flavoured
One week before the launch, the CRC/Iceland PR team was worried about
the project leaking when the Sunday Times published an article about
genetically-engineered vegetables. The media went to Iceland for comment
but the PR team managed to keep the journalists at bay for another week.
The products were launched nationwide at a press conference on 21 April
and vouchers were given to journalists on the premise that the free
samples would be used for trials on children as part of the
The campaign was intended to focus on children but Iceland was conscious
that adult reactions in the media might be critical.
There have been 250 cuttings and 50 radio and 35 TV clips to date across
regional, national and international media, which mainly focused on
taste tests with children.
Not all coverage was positive, however. In the Times, two top chefs said
the flavoured vegetables were revolting. There was an outcry from
nutritionists, saying that parents should persevere with conventional
foods, but CRC/Iceland defended their product with research showing that
working class mothers in Scotland, the North and South East had given up
force feeding vegetables to their kids.
Iceland estimates that sales of frozen vegetables have risen by around
ten per cent and that the most successful flavoured vegetable was the
one the media latched on to - the chocolate-flavoured carrots.
The campaign has raised pounds 200,000 for the CRC to date .
Novelty vegetables may not solve the problem for parents worldwide.
However, the launch campaign got across the message that if children eat
more vegetables there is less chance of developing cancer in later life.
And on the basis of CRC’s research, David Blunkett MP has announced a
’back to basics’ campaign for school dinners.
Client: Iceland/Cancer Research Campaign
PR Team: Iceland/Cancer Research Campaign in-house PR departments
Campaign: Wacky Veg
Timescale: March 1997 - ongoing
Cost: pounds 4,000