With childhood obesity on the rise, there is a genuine concern among most people that the long-term health implications for Australians are horrendous. We are staring at the possibility of more than half of our population being clinically overweight, probably being diabetic, perhaps never really able to enjoy a healthy, active existence – definitely living shorter, less satisfying lives.

Fixing this comes down, essentially, to two simple factors, diet and exercise. We could do something about the diet side; we couldn’t turn every parent into a personal trainer.

And the best foods of all for a healthy diet are vegetables. By increasing vegetable intake at a younger age, we can increase nutrition, decrease childhood obesity and give kids a healthier start in life.

But how to get kids to eat them? And how to get parents to put them in the trolley instead of biscuits or lollies? Happy Valley Enterprises and Starship set out to make vegetables more appealing to kids and parents alike.

Let’s look briefly at the market. Supermarkets are filled with tired mothers, stressed fathers and nagging children. “Mummy, can I have a lollypop?”, “Dad, just one Mars Bar, pleeeease?” The consistent nagging for chocolates, lollies and sugar-filled chewing gum gets annoying for all. As an observation, the confectionary brands have been doing a very good job of getting kids to want the product.

In contrast the Lamattina Group, founded in 1955, stands as one of the largest suppliers of healthy, fresh food in Australia. Its commitment to consistent quality natural products saw the establishment of Happy Valley Enterprises in Happy Valley on the banks of the Murray River, northern Victoria, in 1993. A massive farming operation of approximately 8000 acres, its aim is to supply quality fresh, pre-packed vegetables to retailers. The group has been packaging vegetables for many years, including carrots, but it wanted to do something to increase kids’ consumption of them.

Why now? Because 2009 saw a major milestone. Australia, as a nation, is getting fatter on a massive scale. During that year we were declared the fattest nation on earth. Happy Valley Enterprises and Starship saw the youth demographic as a largely under-helped market. Apart from pre-processed foods marketed as lunchbox snacks, such as biscuits and cheese (read salt and fat) combos, and some work done by the banana, apple and pear foundations, which are obviously fruits, no one actually had attempted to market simple unprocessed vegetables as a healthy alternative to sugar- and salt-based snack foods.

But we knew kids did not respond to bland, business-like, fact-filled messages. They respond to brands like Freddo Frog, Ronald MacDonald and the Coco-Pops monkey.

We knew we could not hope to change the way they think. We had to work with proven means of communicating with kids. Use the proven methods; just change the message itself.

Happy Valley and Starship therefore started with the idea of applying traditional, fun and cute, confectionary style advertising to vegetables. This is what we came up with.

Campaign: Reindeer Preferred Carrots
Client: Happy Valley Enterprises
Agency: Starship


  • to make vegetables ‘fun’ and increase sales
  • to persuade kids to eat more vegetables and increase their daily intake
  • to change the way children perceive vegetables
  • to apply traditional confectionary advertising to vegetables
  • to combat childhood obesity
  • to make snack time healthy, and
  • to increase sales of packaged carrots way above normal turnover for this time of year.


It was decided that our strategy would revolve around applying traditional confectionary advertising to vegetables. The past festive season brought more than the usual amount of Christmas cheer to Starship, as it was proud to launch a new carrot brand targeting kids and mums. Aptly named ‘Reindeer Preferred Carrots’, the campaign was launched in Woolworths stores across the nation.

Matt Peek, project manager for the campaign, explains the modern challenges of persuading kids to eat vegetables.

“We live in a time where childhood obesity is a major issue in Australia and where cute characters are normally associated with confectionary brands, but kids have never really seen vegetables branded in the same way. The theory was to allow kids to become emotionally attached to the brand through its association with Christmas.

“It’s a win/win for the client and for mums, as it’s a story to tell the kids when serving up carrots. Encouraging kids to eat a healthy product was one of the main reasons Starship was so passionate about the campaign, plus the little character is sweet as hell, and so are the carrots.”


Starship developed the brand from concept and packaging through to above the line advertising, and launched Reindeer Preferred Carrots into the starlit sky.

Starship and Happy Valley set up a competition to help kids engage with the brand on another level, running a ‘Win one of 50 Apple iPod Nanos’ promotion.

“The harmony between apples and carrots, fruit and vegetables, provided some quirky and original creative opportunities,” Peek explains. 

Print ads ran in magazines such as Delicious, Woolworths Fresh, Good Taste, Girlfriend, Total Girl, Just Kidding, K-Zone and banner ads on websites, and Just This media mix was aimed to reach the above mentioned target markets.


Launched in November 2009, the campaign ran for just over a month and was highly successful, seeing carrot sales skyrocket.

The response was exceptional – there were approximately 8000 entries into the competition and carrot sales exceeded expectations with 500,000 bags sold in the first two weeks.

The campaign was so successful Happy Valley is intending to run the campaign again this year with expanded distribution and media budget.

So come Christmas 2010, make sure you leave Santa’s reindeer the carrots they prefer.