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October 30, 2013

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Beloved Sesame Street Characters to Promote Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption to Kids

Sesame Workshop and Produce Marketing Association joined the Partnership for a Healthier America to help make healthier choices easier for families

WASHINGTON, DC—First Lady Michelle Obama today announced that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for parents and families to make.

The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to take advantage of the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame Street characters may be on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said First Lady Michelle Obama today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.

In her remarks, the First Lady referenced a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie, or both and the vast majority of the kids chose the cookies. But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for the apple.

“It’s no secret that many parents have a hard time getting kids excited about eating their fruits and vegetables,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “Today’s commitment helps all of us promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and gives parents and families a powerful, positive tool to help kids get excited about eating healthier foods.”

PHA works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to broker meaningful private sector commitments to ending the childhood obesity epidemic.

As part of its commitment to PHA, Sesame Workshop will:

  • Work with PMA to enable PMA and its community of growers, suppliers and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand and characters to deliver a message of encouragement for young children and their families to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Provide a license to PMA free of charge for two years following launch of the program to make approved uses of the Sesame Street Muppet characters and elements of Sesame Workshop’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative when used to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Enable PMA, through the license agreement, to provide access to, and oversee use of the Sesame Workshop assets by the PMA community; and,
  • Create a “produce promotion toolkit” and style guide to facilitate use of the Sesame Workshop assets in promotional activities. 

“Sesame Workshop has long been committed to the health and well-being of children through our longstanding Healthy Habits for Life initiative—since 2004, we have been integrating messages about healthy food choices and exercise into Sesame Street, the television program, in our community outreach and on our other off-air activities,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop.  “We are proud to work with the Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America to continue this important work.”

PMA will:

  • Review all requests by its growers, suppliers and retailers for Sesame Workshop assets for use in the promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables and permit use only on eligible products and according to the terms of the license agreement between Sesame Workshop and PMA;
  • Provide assistance and widely promote the opportunity to participate in the Sesame Workshop licensing program; and
  • Share with PHA the results over a two-year period from the Performance Start Date, with metrics including number of products given Sesame Workshop assets through the program, number of companies participating and estimated sales impact.

“One of the key challenges we face is competing for share of mind and share of plate,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission and immediate past chairman of PMA’s board of directors. “Other food marketers – companies who have seemingly endless budgets enabling them to position and sell their products, especially to kids – are steep competition. As a parent whose kids grew up with the Sesame Street characters, I’m thrilled to be a part of a program that will give the produce industry additional marketing opportunities for our naturally healthful products. The power of the Sesame Street brand is undeniable, especially given the trust parents have in it.”

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.

Media contacts:

Elly Spinweber, PHA
202.864.6053, news@ahealthieramerica.org

Meg Miller, PMA
302.607.2131, mmiller@pma.com

Beatrice Chow, Sesame Workshop
212.875.6586

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