CINCINNATI -- Dairy's new 3-A-Day for Stronger Bones campaign has received a key vote of support from a national supermarket retailer, giving it strength to fight off charges of plagiarism from the produce industry's older, long-established 5-A-Day for Better Health program.
Kroger Co. announced its participation in 3-A-Day, with plans to implement the theme in dairy departments in all divisions, according to chain officials.
"We plan to promote the campaign in a variety of ways, including advertising, in-store signage, POP and special promotions," Kroger spokesman Gary Rhodes told SN.
Other retailers, including Ahold USA and Wal-Mart, have indicated they will also take part in the $25 million campaign funded through dairy manufacturers as well as checkoff dollars.
To boost consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese to three servings a day, the dairy industry conceived the themed, multi-year strategy featuring the placement of a new red, white and blue logo with the phrase "3-A-Day For Stronger Bones" on 1 billion packages of dairy products from major product manufacturers. Dairy industry leaders noted the campaign aims not only to increase consumption but address a calcium deficit that's particularly acute among schoolchildren. Marketing efforts will target mothers of young children.
However good the intentions, the effort has angered supporters of the 5-A-Day for Better Health produce campaign, who are working through their lawyers to stop the dairy industry from using the "servings-per-day" slogan. Friends of 5-A-Day believe the dairy program infringes on their tagline, developed more than 10 years ago.
Supporters also fear 3-A-Day will confuse consumers and ultimately hurt their efforts to boost consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Unlike the dairy initiative, which primarily is a marketing drive, 5-A-Day is a health campaign first and a marketing effort second, an official with the Produce for Better Health Foundation told SN, noting it's a public-private partnership between the National Cancer Institute and PBH.
And while dairy leaders consulted 5-A-Day officials two years ago regarding public-private partnerships, 5-A-Day never endorsed it.
The programs "are distinctly differently," said Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the PBH Foundation. Pivonka spoke to SN last week from the International 5-A-Day Symposium in Berlin. "They're saying we approved it. We didn't. They didn't tell us they were going to call it 3-A-Day. I feel betrayed."
An official with the National Dairy Council offered a different perspective, noting dairy leaders were surprised by the objections from 5-A-Day officials, since members of both industries had talked about the dairy initiative a couple of years ago.
Dairy leaders do not believe their slogan infringes on the produce industry's trademark, and they plan to move forward with their program. They recently unveiled a Web site, 3aday.org.
"We feel our campaign stands alone," said Ann Marie Krautheim, a registered dietician with Rosemont, Ill.-based NDC.
5-A-Day leaders pointed out the new marketing plan promotes high-fat products at a time when many Americans struggle with obesity.
"The products they're promoting are appalling," said Lorelei DiSogra, a registered dietician who directs the 5-A-Day program at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. Krautheim said the dairy leaders are not covering up the fat content of products. The 3-A-Day logo will appear on products containing 20% of the daily value of calcium per serving, and products with higher fat levels will carry a disclaimer on the package.
"Each product clearly identifies the amount of fat on the product," Krautheim said. "Consumers can choose the calcium source that best meets their needs and nutritional tastes."