DIRECT: DoH hires 23red for 5 A Day food industry brief

The Department of Health (DoH) is using a below-the-line campaign to develop partnerships with the food industry. The activity is part of a drive to encourage UK consumers to eat more healthily.

COI Communications has hired 23red to promote the DoH's 5 A Day programme to businesses. The appointment marks the first time a marketing agency has been used to back the scheme.

The government's 5 A Day logo was introduced in April last year to combat the nation's unhealthy eating habits. It was devised in response to evidence that, on average, adults eat only three portions of fruit and vegetables a day and children just two.

Food companies can apply for a licence to include the logo on products that contain at least one daily recommended portion of fruit or vegetables.

The DoH will tie up with food companies to engage in a dialogue with consumers.

It will use direct mail, point-of-sale, on-pack promotion, online activity and advertising to boost awareness and understanding of healthy eating.

23red, which was appointed to the business after a three-way pitch, will be responsible for developing more partnerships with food companies. It has been charged with urging participants not only to carry the 5 A Day brand, but also to market it actively to consumers.

The main targets of the scheme are supermarkets and manufacturers. The DoH aims to change people's diets by altering their shopping and food preparation routines.

The DoH acknowledges that confusion surrounds what constitutes a portion.

This was compounded last year by companies such as Sainsbury's and Heinz, which launched their own branded versions of 5 A Day.

Last April Heinz was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority for a misleading representation of the health benefits of its tomato soup.

Advertising implied the product contained two recommended daily portions of vegetables, when it only contained one.