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Sesame Workshop, the producers of "Sesame Street," and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) announced at a White House event yesterday that will grant PMA a free two-year license to put Sesame Street characters and the program's logo on fresh fruit and vegetable products, a move described as "a unique and powerful collaboration committed to increasing children’s consumption" of such items.

In essence, PMA will re-license the characters and brand to retailers and manufacturers, allowing them to leverage the highly visible and credible images in an attempt to influence children's consumption behavior.

Also appearing at the event: First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made childhood nutrition and the battle against childhood obesity a central theme of her role in the Obama administration. “Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” she said at the event. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.”

“PMA seeks nothing less than to inspire a fresh food revolution,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and CEO. “We’re delighted to be part of this new partnership that brings together the White House and two non- profit organizations (PMA and Sesame Workshop) with one very critical mission – helping kids develop healthier eating habits early in life by choosing fresh fruits and veggies. These are goals for both organizations: for Sesame Workshop, utilizing its engaging characters to help families make healthier choices; for PMA, focusing more resources directly on our newly unveiled strategic plan with its emphasis on driving produce consumption.”

Silbermann tells MNB that Cathy Green Burns, the former president of Food Lion who is joining PMA as president in early December, will have the Sesame Street licensing initiative as part of her portfolio when she begins her duties there.
KC's View:
I think this is a huge deal on a variety of levels … especially because the "Sesame Street" folks probably could have gotten a lot of money for the use of their trademarked characters and logo. The company, which has been one of the most influential media properties of the last few decades in terms of how its programs have been viewed by children, who have learned much not just about words and numbers, but about compassion and tolerance and respect. Now, to make this kind of investment in young people by providing these licenses for free … well, in a world that can be kind of mercenary, that's extraordinary.

And good for PMA, picking up the challenge and running with it. I can see tons of opportunities here … on national brands and private labels, on fresh fruits and vegetables, and in store produce sections. Big opportunity here … and I'm looking forward to seeing what PMA will do with it.