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Michelle Obama's Dream: 'Imagine Our Kids Begging and Pleading, Throwing Tantrums' for Health Food

Calls for greater "product placement."

5:38 PM, Mar 8, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In a speech today at George Washington University, First Lady Michelle Obama laid out her dream for a healthier-eating America. The vision, she said, requires greater "product placement."

"[J]ust think for a minute what this country could look like," said Obama, according to the official White House transcript. "Imagine walking into any grocery store in America and finding the healthiest options clearly marked and centrally placed so that you know within seconds what’s good for your family when you walk in that store.  Imagine opening up a menu in any restaurant and knowing exactly what items will give your family the most nutrition for your hard-earned dollar.  Imagine our kids begging and pleading, throwing tantrums to get you to buy more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Yes, this is possible.  (Laughter.)  It is possible to create this world!  (Applause.)"

Obama called for greater "product placement."

"With more information, responsible marketing, with better labels and product placement, with greater access and affordability -- yes, that’s what’s possible," she said.

 "And the truth is, it isn’t rocket science.  We have everything we need right here and right now to make this happen.  We just have to summon the focus and the will.  And everyone has to make supporting healthy families their top priority going forward."

And she also praised prior "product placement" and other steps taken by corporations as helping more Americans eat healthier:

 It’s also about companies realizing that marketing healthy foods can be responsible and the profitable thing to do as well. 

And American companies can play a vital role to help make eating fruits and veggies fun and, yes, even cool.  Study after study proves this point.  For example, in one study, researchers gave kids a choice between eating a chocolate bar or some broccoli.  Unsurprisingly, 78 percent of the kids chose the chocolate, and just 22 percent chose the broccoli.  But when they put an Elmo sticker on the broccoli -- (laughter) -- and a sticker of an unknown cartoon character on the chocolate, 50 percent of the kids chose the broccoli and 50 percent chose the chocolate.  So that little Elmo sticker added 28 percentage points to broccoli.  (Laughter.)  The power of Elmo!  (Laughter.)  

As for profitability, just ask the folks at Birds Eye Vegetables.  They launched a major marketing campaign featuring characters from the popular kids' TV show iCarly -- one of my favorites -- and their sales jumped 37 percent.  Vidalia Onion did a campaign with Shrek, and their sales went up 50 percent.  It turned out that after kids saw these ads for healthy foods, they went and begged their parents to buy them.

The first lady's remarks were part of a summit on childhood obesity.

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