Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

According to a report in the latest issue of Brandweek, Disney is partnering with Kroger to introduce more than 100 Walt Disney branded “healthful” food items. This will be a Kroger-only “private label” brand, so it’s quite a marketing coup our local dominant grocery chain. This new Disney food label will be pitched as a healthy alternative to junk foods, and will include water, low-sugar juice, yogurt, meat, cheese, bread, pasta, soup, veggies, and portion-controlled ice cream treats.

Disney characters appearing on the packages include Woody and Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story,” Dash from “The Incredibles,” Mike Wazowski from “Monsters Inc,” Tigger, Winnie The Pooh, and Mickey Mouse. This is the first time that Disney has partnered with a food retailer for an entire line of products. Essentially, Disney’s kid’s line will become Kroger’s fourth in-house “private label” brand. It comes at a time when Disney is allowing their relationship with McDonalds to come to an end, signaling that perhaps they’re concerned with the possibility of Disney being found “guilty by association” when it comes to parent’s rising concern over the effect of junk food on their kids.

Disney’s healthy kids food items should start turning up soon, if they haven’t already, so that they can be in place for the back-to-school push. It’ll be interesting to see if this is just a cynical marketing push, or if Disney is serious about using their vast animated character library to try and influence kids to eat better. This effort goes beyond ineffective public service announcements, and actually tries to make healthier food products more enticing to children.