Every year, the Super Bowl airs buzzworthy commercials centred on soda, candy and snacks, and Americans fulfil their cravings for the food promoted in between plays, making the biggest game of the year synonymous with junk food. But Super Bowl XLVIII will be different. While we’ll still see ads from Super Bowl staples like Coca-Cola and Doritos, the spotlight will be on healthier food, signalling a defining moment in the history of food – eating well has gone mainstream. Advertisers are gearing up for a game-changing lineup of commercials promoting healthy food, including celeb-filled spots from Chobani and Dannon’s Oikos, as well as commercials from Cheerios and the vitamin-laden pistachio. Even Anheuser-Busch is showing its health-conscious side, devoting three of its five Super Bowl spots to light beer.
With the Affordable Health Care Act fully in effect (regardless of how you feel about the legislation) more Americans than ever have purchased health care insurance and are starting to plan for their health futures as diligently as they plan for their financial future. As people become more motivated about their health and knowledgeable about what they put in their bodies, advertisers need to rethink their approach to healthy food. How can they make the products that have long been perceived as 'boring' and 'unappetising' more appealing to mass consumer audiences?
Get emotional. While there are many logical reasons to choose healthy foods, people tend to make decisions largely based on their emotional connections to people and products. Food is one of the most emotionally charged aspects of our lives and we are conditioned to respond to more emotional messaging in advertising. We make peace with each other, celebrate milestones, fall in love and seal business deals over a meal. Whatever food product brands are selling has to find its emotional place in this tradition.
Get funny. Making healthy food feel fun is a tall order. Greek yogurt, whole grain cereal and roasted nuts don’t sound quite as fun or tasty as treats like chocolate, soda and cookies, but I have faith in the creativity of our industry. Using humour to form connections between positive emotions and healthy eating is not only good marketing, it’s a good long-term strategy.
Get serious (just a little). With so much research readily available, consumers are becoming smarter about their health and wellness and how their bodies work. While they don’t need to become experts on the chemical biological processes, they are seeking evidence that supports them changing habits and trying something new. Marketers should not be afraid to arm curious consumers with more facts and information online.
Get real. Milk consumption in California was stagnant until a creative agency showed consumers how milk impacted the way they enjoyed other food with the “Got Milk” campaign. People are interested in improving their health, but have a lot of other priorities in their lives. Healthy food advertisers need to remember to be realistic about the call to action they are reinforcing. Showing how healthy foods fit easily and conveniently into people’s lives – whether in the car, at the office or on the go – is critical to helping consumers visualise eating healthier food options. This makes trying a new food option or lifestyle change seem more realistic and tangible.
According to the CDC, 69.2% of American adults are overweight or obese. The time to drive positive lifestyle choices is now, and advertisers can play a part in this by touting healthier foods at major events like the Super Bowl. I have high hopes that the brilliant minds in our industry will use their creativity to increase awareness and interest in healthier products, and make it more fun and entertaining for consumers in the process.