Olympian Efforts

Incorporating Olympic champions into marketing campaigns certainly is not new. Winning athletes long have graced boxes of cereal and other food items. However, with the Winter Olympics in full swing this month, Kellogg Co. has taken the opportunity to feature the stories behind the athletes.

The athletes are partnering with the Kellogg Earn Your Stripes program to raise children's awareness of the importance of keeping fit, staying active and working hard to achieve goals. In the process, Kellogg is sponsoring snowboarders Ross Powers and Lindsey Jacobellis, skiers Toby Dawson and Resi Steigler, and speedskaters Derek Parra and Jennifer Rodriguez. The athletes, in turn, will be featured on boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes or in television advertising during the Olympic Winter Games.

The Earn Your Stripes website (www.tonythetiger.com) encourages young people to learn about the athletes' personal stories and their efforts to succeed.

Spreading the Health

When entertaining at parties or get-togethers, hosts often are at a loss when it comes to healthful snacks. A number of companies have made efforts to improve the healthfulness of their potato chips and crackers, removing fat, trans fat, etc. However, a New Jersey company is attempting to take the healthful dipper in a new direction.

Pretzel Crisps are spreadable pretzel crackers touted by manufacturer Snack Factory Inc. as the “latest innovation in snack foods” and “an ideal complement to hummus, cheeses, spreads and dips,” although they also are recommended with chocolate, peanut butter or ice cream.

The crisps are oven-baked and made with all-natural ingredients. Fat- and cholesterol-free, they have 100 calories per 28g serving but, if there are any carb-watchers remaining out there, they do have 21g of carbohydrates per serving

Getting Activia

The Dannon Co., the U.S. fresh dairy unit of Groupe Danone, has announced it will release Activia in the U.S. The company claims the product is the first and only probiotic yogurt clinically proven to help naturally regulate the digestive system in two weeks, when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The company has found quite a degree of success globally with the product. One of the group's bestsellers around the world, Activia generated around 650 million euros ($781 million) in sales in 2004, when it could be found in more than 20 countries, primarily in Europe and Asia. Introduced in France in 1987, the brand registered compounded annual sales growth of 24% between 2000 and 2004.

A 4oz serving of Activia contains beneficial cultures, including its exclusive Bifidus RegularisTM. The yogurt “works by helping to reduce long intestinal transit time, the time it takes food to pass through the digestive system. Clinical studies prove that Activia can help reduce transit time by up to 40%,” claims a company release.

Careful of Young Ears

A report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests marketing food and beverages to young people has negative consequences. Touted as the “most comprehensive review to date of the scientific evidence of the influence of food marketing on diets of children and youth,” the report says food and beverage marketing to children under the age of 12 leads them to request and consume high-calorie, low-nutrient products.

Making matters more troubling, the report notes that dietary patterns are formed early in life and set the stage for one's long-term health prospects. As such, the report recommends “significant” changes to reshape children's awareness of healthy dietary choices.

“Manufacturers and restaurants,” it says, “should direct more of their resources to developing and marketing child- and youth-oriented foods, drinks and meals that are higher in nutrients and lower in calories, fat, salt and added sugars,” while also suggesting the government enhance nutritional standards, incentives and public policies to promote the marketing of more-healthful foods and beverages.