ITV’s Veg Power campaign urges us to eat our greens – and trust in TV

Vegetables are a scary bunch in adam&eveDDB’s ad for ITV’s new healthy eating campaign, which features sinister cauliflowers, smirking sweetcorn, and an avalanche of Brussell sprouts.

Children are invited to #EatThemToDefeatThem, in a kind of reverse psychology move that portrays vegetables as the enemy and kids as powerful avengers.

The broadcaster is donating £2 million of free airtime to the cause, which has received funding from every major supermarket in the UK, and is backed by an alliance of producers and retailers called Veg Power.

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall says: “We’re proud to use the power of TV to take a new, bold and brave approach to encouraging kids to eat more vegetables.”

But her agenda is not just about health – she also wants to protect her revenues. The broadcaster needs to be seen to be on the side of healthy eating, as McCall continues to fend off calls from MPs demanding an end to all junk food ads on TV before the 9pm watershed.

ITV has other reasons to promote what McCall terms “the power of TV.” Its shares took a 6 per cent tumble last week when a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch claimed that the market “under-appreciates the pace of the decline in TV consumption and concurrent rise of online video.”

BARB’s new figures carry the same warning, and indicate the speed at which habits are changing: viewing figures for SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime were up 17 per cent in 2018, while live viewing was down five per cent.

So ITV’s motives may not be entirely altruistic, but the cause is a good one and the ad itself is entertaining and original. The campaign will appear in every media, and ITV is running a whole prime time ad break devoted to healthy eating during “The Voice.” Reward charts, providing stickers for every vegetable eaten, will be distributed in thousands of primary schools.

Veg Power’s influential supporters include Sir John Hegarty, Baroness Rosie Boycott, and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Makes a change to have a chef other than Jamie Oliver telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat.

Adam&eveDDB has done the work pro bono. The agency’s CEO Mat Goff said: “This partnership between ITV and Veg Power is a rare opportunity to show the power of advertising to do good. Solving the nation’s health will take a wide range of actions and collaborations and we are delighted to have the opportunity to play a small part in tackling them head on.”

Another good ad from ITV, after Uncommon’s effort last week. How long can two such competitive agencies can co-exist with the same client?

MAA creative scale: 8.5

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