This article was originally published in The Financial Times
Sesame Street joins Michelle Obama
By Tanjil Rashid
Client: Produce Marketing Association
The Obamas have a history of co-opting Sesame Street characters into campaigns. When Mitt Romney pledged during the 2012 elections to slash funding for PBS, broadcaster of the children’s television show, Barack Obama had activists dressed as Big Bird, the show’s popular avian muppet, join him on the campaign trail – all without the permission of Sesame Workshop, the show’s creator.
Now, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign against obesity has co-opted two other Sesame Streetresidents, Elmo and Rosita, to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to children.
This time Sesame Workshop has licensed its brand to the US Produce Marketing Association, which is working with Ms Obama’s campaign. Sesame Streetcharacters will be on labels for the PMA’s fruit and vegetable growers, suppliers and retailers. Sesame Workshop is waiving its licensing fee.
Sesame Street’s marketing premium is proven. According to paediatricians at Cornell, children are twice as likely to buy apples burnished with an Elmo sticker.
For too long Cookie Monster has been the PMA’s bête noir. So perhaps it is time Sesame Street made amends.