VIDALIA, Ga. — The Vidalia onion industry is going to the movies by putting a popular character in the produce aisles.

The Vidalia Onion Committee is collaborating with Shrek in a series of multimedia and multi-location promotions aimed at children and based around “Shrek: Forever After.”

Promotion has Shrek movie figure in produce aisles with Vidalia onions

Doug Ohlemeier

Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, Vidalia, Ga., poses in front of a giant Shrek movie promotion during the Southeastern Produce Council’s conference and expo in Tampa, Fla., on March 6.
The Vidalia industry is going Hollywood this year, tying their retail promotions to the final Shrek movie.

Using the “Shrek Forever After, Vidalias Forever Sweet” tagline, the industry’s promotions include produce aisle displays, packaging featuring the Shrek imagery, in-store radio messages, a revamped Web site and advertising on children’s milk cartons.

Vidalia onions are prominently featured in the oversized store displays that include the Web site along with Shrek.

“We are the original sweet onion and pioneers of the category,” said Wendy Brannen, the committee’s executive director.

“We are pairing ourselves with a very original grumpy ogre who possesses a sweet layer underneath and, like it or not, has a bit of a sweet disposition now and then.”

The promotions are scheduled to run for two weeks in May, the primary month of Vidalia onions marketing.

The Shrek movie debuts May 21.

All of the committee’s point-of-sale materials, consumer marketing and paid advertising for this year will direct children to the Web site where they can play a Shrek Vidalia hunt and peel game.

The games have children helping Shrek hunt for onions in his forest. After they find onions, Vidalia trivia pops up.

Once they discover all 10 onions, they will be entered for the contest, which includes a 50-inch high-definition flat panel television grand prize, a Wii console and the “Shrek Forever After” video game.

The redesigned Shrek-focused Vidalia Web site will include elements appealing to young people, including downloadable games, coloring sheets, facts and trivia mouse clickers, wall paper and screen savers.

For in-store promotions, onion packaging will feature pictures of Shrek and his friends.  A chef has developed nearly a dozen ogre-themed recipes such as Swampy Joes, a take on the traditional sloppy Joe that incorporates spinach and Vidalias.

Children should enjoy the familiar names related to the movie, while parents should appreciate the encouragement of children eating healthy vegetables, Brannen said.

“We will have some good opportunities to really play up the Shrek Vidalia ogre onion materials in the displays at retail this year,” she said.

The industry is also returning to a retail display contest it hasn’t done in a couple of years.

Brannen said supermarket chains have been requesting display contests as a way of motivating their produce department employees to get their stores involved and sell more product.

The grand prize is a trip for four to Orlando, Fla., that includes a visit to Universal Studios’ Shrek 4-D ride.

The committee plans to advertise the movie and Vidalias on the back of milk cartons. Up to 30 million milk cartons in major metropolitan schools will displays messages featuring interactive children’s activities.

The industry is also conducting in-store point-of-purchase radio played throughout the store that will try to attract interest in Vidalias.

The spots are scheduled to air inside 700 grocery stores in 50 Western and Midwestern markets.

Additionally, the committee plans radio advertising featuring the Shrek characters throughout the U.S. as well as a ready-to-print matte newspaper release for Sunday editions.

Promotion has Shrek movie figure in produce aisles with Vidalia onions

Courtsey Vidalia Onion Committee

The Vidalia Onion Committee, Vidalia, Ga., is going Hollywood this year, tying their retail promotions to the final Shrek movie.

“The Shrek movies have outrageous popularity,” Brannen said.

“It is just unreal, the recognizability among parents and Shrek’s popularity amongst kids. We are doing some over-the-top marketing this year and are really going all out to make sure this program is a success.”

Aries Haygood, operations manager for M & T Farms, Lyons, said he expects the movie promotion to be big.

“There’s a lot of anticipation with the final Shrek,” he said.

“It is exciting to know that Vidalia onions will be related to it on the big screen. Having people going to stores and seeing the Shrek display right by the Vidalia onions should be great for retailers, for us and for Shrek.”

Marty Kamer, partner and sales manager for Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., which sells for Cowart Farms, Lyons, said the promotion marks a change for the Vidalia industry.

“This is one of the best industry or association promotion efforts I have ever seen,” he said.

“It is fantastic and is very well done and should generate a lot of excitement and interest among young people.”