Guidelines for Food & Beverage Sales
Ministry of Education
Victoria BC, Canada
In 2013 the Ministry of Education in British Columbia set new provincial guidelines for food and beverage sales across the Province. The goal of the guidelines was to increase access to healthy food and beverages and limit access to unhealthy choices. Not only would these guidelines make it easier to eat well, but would also reinforce healthy eating lessons they learn in the classroom. As part of the program, the Ministry of Education wanted to promote the new guidelines to students in a novel way that would capture their attention.
We met with representatives of the Ministry to discuss engaging students via a social media campaign. At this point, mobile phones and social media were starting to become popular with teenagers, and we felt engaging in this “new” medium would be a win-win for the Ministry. They would be seen as forward thinking while getting their critical message out to the students across the Province.
In consultation with the Ministry we developed an 8-week social media campaign. Each week had a theme, with key messaging, resources, feedback, interaction, posters and a comic. To obtain engagement from the students, we developed a set of cartoon characters to help the students relate to the campaign.
The 8-week campaign was effectively broken down into 3-stages:
Weeks 1 & 2 – Invitation
The initial weeks have a bend towards grabbing attention and building a base of followers. Contests were used at this stage to gain followers while driving interactions through increased sharing.
Weeks 3-6 – Engagement
The middle four weeks focused on further development of the storyline as word of the new guidelines spreads throughout the student population.
Weeks 7 & 8 – Launch of Guidelines and Transition to Future Social Strategy
The final weeks concluded the initial chapter in the stories of the four characters and were used to transition into future social strategy or transition to further social channels.
Engagement within the schools was obtained with a series of posters and promotional items made available to hand out to students. The weekly themes were fun and exciting and the cartoon characters were designed to engage with the students in different scenarios while enforcing the new guidelines.
Week 1: The Excelerde Charade
Key Messages include drinking water more often, or plain, unsweetened milk with no added sugar.
In the storyline Max journeys from sports drinks, supplements and fast food to healthier/more energizing choices as he learns what is best for his body.
Week 2: The Donut Debacle
Key Messages include eating portion sizes that satisfy your appetite.
In the storyline Summer disaster strikes in the life of this ‘selfie’-loving sister after a project with a fellow student goes wrong and photos turn up on the internet.
Week 3: Quest-ions Raised
Key Messages include eating whole and minimally processed food from the national Food Guide more often than prepackaged food, which is often high in sodium, sugar or fat.
In the storyline Quest grows increasingly frustrated with the unhealthy food options available at her school and the lack of awareness of her peers.
Week 4: The Not-So Smoothie
Key Messages include the fact that healthy food can taste good! Encourage students to work with their school on choosing what is being sold to make sure food options available are tasty / delicious.
In the storyline Quest hears about Summers donut debacle and, looking to raise awareness for healthy eating, launches a school smoothie day.
Week 5: Sloptoberfest
Key Messages include not using unhealthy food/drinks to raise money for the school.
In the storyline Ted, frustrated by what he believes is unhealthy food at the school, decides to enter his own concoction at Quest’s HealtyFest Bake Sales, and causes quite a ‘stir’.
Week 6: Summer Bummer
Key Messages re-enforce not using unhealthy food/drinks to raise money for the school.
In the storyline Quest decides her classmates are coming across as a bit too intense about this healthy eating and, worried about the upcoming prom, takes it upon herself to initiate a fundraiser that doesn’t require dealing with food.
Week 7: Fast Food!?
Key Messages reminding students that over seventy-five percent of sodium we eat comes from processed food such as cheese, pizza, deli meat, sauces, and soups.
In the storyline Max talks with Principal Purser on the sale of various ‘fast food’ items in the schools’ cafeteria that seem to slow him down.
Week 8: Tos-Tad-a
Key Messages include working with your school store, cafeteria, principal, and parents who can make pricing decisions on food sold to students. A great way to boost the sale of healthy food is to price them lower than unhealthy options.
In the storyline Ted is not excited to hear the school menu has been given an overhaul, but quickly finds new favourites in two new menu items.
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