Controversial US chemical giant Monsanto has picked Bartle Bogle Hegarty to create a 7m ad campaign, which aims to soften consumers’ attitudes to genetically engineered foods.
BBH, which won the pitch against Lowe Howard-Spink, has been briefed to come up with an advertising and media plan to “educate” the public about the benefits of genetically engineered food and change popular associations with cloning and “Frankenfoods”.
Monsanto has been stung by adverse publicity and complaints from major retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, first revealed by Marketing Week (MW August 16 1996).
The supermarkets were against genetically modified soya being mixed with non-modified beans in their own-label products such as cakes, bread, chocolate, pizzas, soup and ice cream. They had lobbied for segregation of crops, but failed to win assurances that this was possible.
Monsanto intends to diffuse public distrust of genetic engineering and make supermarkets more willing to stock genetically engineered products.
It is planning to blitz the British public with a marketing and advertising campaign aimed at changing attitudes.
“When consumers are told about genetic engineering they automatically think ‘cloning’,” says an analyst.
The toughest target market for the food giant to crack is 30- to 35-year-old mothers, who are particularly critical of genetically modified food and are big shoppers and opinion formers. “They object to the way these products have been sneaked into their groceries without adequate labelling,” says a source.
Campaigns may also be launched in France and Germany.