ETTDT new ad

An army of warrior kids is vowing to vanquish a legion of evil vegetables in a new TV advert for ITV and Veg Power’s Eat Them To Defeat Them campaign.

Created by adam&eveDDB and supported by a multi-million pound media alliance between ITV, STV, Channel 4 and Sky, and funded by 10 food and retail brands, the initiative looks to boost consumption of fruit and veg among children.

The cackles, grunts and groans of the evil attacking vegetables have been voiced by range of celebrities including Dame Emma Thompson, Amanda Holden, Jamie Oliver, Stephen Mulhern, Giovanna Fletcher and Ranvir Singh, and the new creative comes as a new report from the Food Foundation shows almost a third (29 per cent) of children aged 5-10 eat less than one portion of vegetables a day.

Called ‘Prepare for Battle’, the campaign carries on the strategy of positioning the evil vegetables as an enemy where the children become the heroes and have to Eat Them to Defeat Them. The counter-intuitive approach has already proven to be very effective, with kids, parents and schools all confirming it actually gets kids to eat more vegetables, according to the campaign. Some 81 per cent of school staff stated that the campaign was more popular than other healthy eating initiatives, while 76 per cent of kids in schools said the campaign made eating veg more fun.

Since the campaign debuted in January 2019, it has led to sales of over 517 million additional children’s portions of vegetables, worth £63m, Veg Power said.

Kids' army tackles evil veg

The new 60-second ad spot starts with the news that evil veg are back. We then see kids from across Britain pledging to make their foes ‘wish they were never grown’. In a montage, the kids undertake intense training using everyday kitchen utensils, eventually squaring up against the veg on the battlefield. The first shot is fired, in the form of a fork piercing a terrifying tomato, before all hell breaks loose. As the army charges forth, one of the warriors turns to camera, demanding of her fellow children: “Will you just sit there? Or are you with us?”

‘Prepare for Battle’ launches on Saturday 29 May including in ITV’s new show, The Masked Dancer, with the show including a Beetroot character inspired by the campaign. The new Eat Them To Defeat them ads will also run in major shows on Sky, Channel 4 and STV, and feature in editorial including Martin and Roman’s Weekend Best, James Martin’s Saturday Morning, Alan Titchmarsh’s Spring into Summer, and ITV Daytime.

The campaign is set to reach 5.2m households with children, thanks to donated media from ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, as part of their £10m commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles for children.

The campaign is funded by 10 major food retailers and brands: Aldi, Asda, Birds Eye, Co-op, Lidl, Total Produce, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Media agency Essence has planned the off-air media for the campaign, securing pro-bono contributions from advertising and media partners, including Pearl and Dean, News UK, Mail Metro Media, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Verizon, Spotify, Mail Online, Mumsnet, LadBible, Snapchat, Twitter, Acast, JCDecaux, First News, Clear Channel and Ocean Outdoor in a huge drive to encourage children to feel more enthusiastic about eating vegetables.

Schools push

This year the campaign is also rolling out into 1,900 primary schools with veg-tasting sessions, posters, teaching aids and games, and into homes as 500,000 children will be given a vegetable reward chart and sticker pack, alongside a puzzle book co-created and funded by Public Health England’s Change4Life campaign.

A new report, ‘Veg Facts 2021’, being released by The Food Foundation and Peas Please Partnership, reveals that almost a third of children between 5-10 years old eat less than one portion of veg a day. The situation does not improve with teenagers, with only six per cent of teenagers aged 11-16 years old currently eating enough veg to hit the recommendations in the government’s Eatwell Guide.

Research conducted by YouGov, commissioned by ITV and Veg Power for the campaign found that 35 per cent of parents worried about their children’s diets during the pandemic.

Baroness Rosie Boycott, chair of the Veg Power board, said: “We are delighted that Eat Them To Defeat Them has returned for its third year and is set to reach even more children across the UK. As our mission is to get the UK eating more veg, engaging with children on this topic is crucial as not only will it improve their health but encourage lifelong eating habits.”

Susie Braun, head of social purpose at ITV, added: “This award-winning campaign is proof that it’s possible to change not just kids’ attitudes but their behaviours around eating vegetables. We are delighted to be driving this huge alliance around Eat Them to Defeat Them for a third year, together getting literally millions more portions of vegetables into kids’ tummies.”