Here at Refinery29, kale is a way of life. Kale salads, kale smoothies, kale chips — we’re basically slowly turning green at our desks. But few of us have ever stopped to question exactly where our kale obsession came from. After all, it’s not particularly healthy, at least compared with other power veggies like beets, swiss chard, or broccoli. Some might argue that it’s not even all that tasty. So, how did kale get so cool?
It turns out, kale isn’t even all that popular — among vegetables sold in the U.S, kale places a modest 47th. Although sales are indeed up around the world, it’s largely been due to its current super-trendy status in high-end North American restaurants, rather than any real marketing efforts.
Which begs the question — if vegetables got the same glitzy advertising treatment as junk food, would we eat more of them? The New York Times Magazine tackled this hypothetical last week. The premise: Commission genius ad agency Victors and Spoils (the masterminds behind campaigns for Coca-Cola, Quiznos, and General Mills) to outline a fictitious ad campaign that could do for broccoli what ad agencies have done for Coke, M&Ms, and countless other junky foods — that is, make it cool. Cooler than kale, even — the campaign centered around the slogan “Eat Fad Free: Broccoli vs. Kale.” Our personal favorite? “What came first: kale or the bandwagon?”
While the plan is purely theoretical right now, the idea that broccoli could become trendy with even a fraction of the amount spent by companies like Coke every year — between $3 million and $7 million, according to Victors and Spoils — is an exciting one. After all, our kale obsession notwithstanding, only 5% of Americans under 50 eat the daily recommended amount of vegetables; a majority of us eat less than half of that amount. It’s no surprise, then, that diet remains the number-one risk factor for disease in America, and that one in three adults is clinically obese. Maybe if broccoli, spinach, and carrots had branding as snappy and strategic as an alcohol or chocolate commercial, more of us would make the healthier choice.