COLES is utilising characters based on vegetables and fruit to promote healthy eating and increase shopper traffic.
What's more, some are named after high profile fresh produce suppliers.
The supermarket giant has partnered with the Healthy Kids Association and introduced "Stikeez" which are small plastic collectables.
There are 24 types of fruit and vegetable Stikeez for customers to collect, including some named after Coles fresh produce growers such as:
- Marie the Mango is Marie Piccone from Manbulloo, NT
- Carlo the Cucumber is Carlo Pippo from Fresh at Heart, Ballina, NSW
- Sunny the Strawberry is from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm in Main Ridge, Victoria
In a similar strategy to Coles' Little Shop Campaign of miniaturised grocery items last year and Wooloworths' Marvel Heroes Super Discs Collectibles in 2017, the campaign is aimed at children.
Coles are not the first supermarket to embrace Stikeez. German chain, Lidl, used the exact same characters (but with different names) in a European campaign at least two years ago.
But Coles has emphasised the focus of the items is healthy eating.
According to a Coles statement: "Stikeez and the Coles Fresh Rainbow Challenge, which has been endorsed by Healthy Kids Association, are designed to encourage Aussie kids and their parents to eat more fresh fruit and veggies and make healthy eating fun for the whole family."
Customers receive a free Stikeez collectable for every $30 they spend at Coles supermarkets, Coles Online and Coles Express.
The Rainbow Challenge encourages Aussie families to track their fruit and vegetable intake by crossing off all the fruit and vegetable colours of the rainbow each day.
Coles will be giving customers free posters to help their families keep track of the fresh produce in their diet.
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Coles chief operating officer, Greg Davis, said Coles was delighted to partner with the Healthy Kids Association to shine a spotlight on delicious fresh Aussie produce and help children get excited about fruit and veggies.
“We know our customers love new and exciting campaigns that make shopping fun. In this case we’re bringing to life our fresh produce to help parents encourage their kids to try new types of fresh fruit and veggies,” Mr Davis said.
“We’re thrilled to have partnered with Healthy Kids Association to create the Coles Fresh Rainbow Challenge which helps parents reward their kids for eating more healthily,” Greg said.
Healthy Kids Association senior dietitian, Grace Brunton, said the organisation was proud to endorse a campaign that would encourage kids to love fruit and vegetables every day.
"One in four Aussie children aged between five and 17 are overweight or obese and while 73 per cent of children aged two to 17 eat enough fruit, just 6.3pc eat the recommended serves of vegetables," Ms Brunton said.
"The Rainbow Challenge will encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables they may never have tried before.
“Eating the rainbow is one of the best ways to ensure kids are getting all the vitamins and minerals that can be found in fruit and vegetables.
“Research shows that incentives increase the likelihood of children eating a serving of fruits or vegetables by 80 per cent and setting goals and rewarding healthy choices have been shown to achieve short term changes in dietary behaviour which can help to establish healthier habits for life.”
Coles has copped some criticism for the campaign however, particularly over banning free plastic bags but introducing plastic toys.
Jayne Paramor, deputy director of Boomerang Alliance, a sustainability firm, said Stikeez was proving the retailer places profit ahead of environmental concern.
"The fact that they have moved on to a new promotion just six months after the Little Shop was launched shows the lack of longevity that these promotions really have," Ms Paramor said.
Boomerang Alliance director Jeff Angel, agreed.
"If Coles had thought about it more carefully, both with the Little Shop and with the Stikeez promotions, they could have turned them into environmental ‘wins’ by demanding and promoting that the toys were from recycled plastic," he said.
Coles Fresh ambassador and celebrity chef, Curtis Stone, helped create the Rainbow Challenge by developing easy-to-prepare recipes for kids to make with their parents to help complete the challenge.
“As a parent I know how hard it can be to get kids excited about eating their veggies so I’m really excited about helping to make them fun and tasty with my colourful recipes like ‘broc tots’, eggplant chips and rainbow pizzas,” Mr Stone said.
Collector cases will be available for $4 and a range of drink bottles, plush toys, snack boxes and pouches will also be available for purchase at supermarkets and Coles Online.
Not surprisingly, complete sets of the collectables are for sale on eBay for $150.