MARKETING MIX: Sprout row comes to the boil

Just what have advertisers got against the humble sprout?



First there was Thomas Cook's high-profile ad campaign earlier this

year, in which the travel company featured a plate of the root vegetable

accompanied by the strapline 'It's time to leave the country'.



As if that wasn't bad enough, a new row has erupted between The Body

Shop and the organisation responsible for marketing sprouts in the UK,

the British Sprout Growers' Association (BSGA).



The furore centres on The Body Shop's festive marketing push, which

comprises posters of a young boy screwing his face up at the sight of

his unfinished Christmas dinner, the main leftovers of which

are ... yes, you've guessed it, sprouts.



According to the BSGA, the posters reflect outdated perceptions of the

vegetable.



"Sprouts farmed in Britain today are smaller and sweeter tasting than

the ones we may remember from our childhood," says a BSGA spokesman.



But The Body Shop is adamant its research found that more than 50% of

adults disliked sprouts when they were young.



"Most of us can remember having to finish our sprouts before being

allowed to leave the dinner table when we were kids," says The Body Shop

UK marketing director Ronny Helvey.



In a gallant attempt to rehabilitate the much-maligned sprout, the BSGA

is encouraging supermarkets to rebrand what it terms "this versatile

vegetable" as British sprouts to flag their improved taste.



Mix for its part has fond childhood memories of uses for unwanted

sprouts, including table football and missiles for throwing at younger

siblings.



The BSGA's campaign to market sprouts to disbelieving kids may have a

fair distance to go yet.



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