Dairy Company Has Kids Imagine Food Additives as Monsters, then Animates Them

Youtube / Arla 
The rBST creature eats clouds and has electrified fur.

You’ve probably heard of rBST—it’s that hormone that boosts milk production in dairy cows. But if you’re a kid, you might imagine it’s a cloud-eating dinosaur-like monster with electric fur. That’s what Leah, age 7, dreamed up when the Danish dairy company Arla asked her to participate in its new  “Live Unprocessed” brand campaign.

Last night, Arla debuted a short behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of their new ads, part of their campaign to launch the brand’s cheese in the U.S. 

With these ads, Arla hoped to demonstrate their commitment to eliminating “weird stuff”—any artificial ingredients or additives—from their products, so they turned to a guaranteed crowd pleaser: cute kids. 

Arla sat down with a group of children and asked them to define a series of ingredients usually added to processed foods, including xanthan gum and rBST. The kids—using their youthful imaginative powers—personified these chemicals as strange creatures, which the Arla team had them draw. They then picked the two kids with the best responses, Leah and Johnny, age 9. In collaboration with Hornet studios, Arla brought their visions to life through animation that would later be used in Arla’s commercials. 

The resulting animated clips are impressive—clearly created with a much higher budget that one might normally expect from a dairy company’s ad campaign. One features Leah’s cloud-eating monster scaring off an innocent fisherman. The other, inspired by Johnny, features xanthan gum   as a planet-conquering alien with hooks for arms whose pet is a dog with no ears (inspired by the Johnny’s own greyhound). The kids provided their own narration and sound effects, too. 

Don Stohrer Jr. CEO of Arla Foods U.S., who spoke before the screening, reassured the audience that his team didn’t influence the kids’ responses, but Johnny and Leah’s ideas seemed to match up exactly with Arla’s mindset: That chemicals used in other dairy products are scary and dangerous monsters that children should fear. (It’s worth noting that rBST is approved by the FDA, which says that there’s no significant difference between the milk produced by cows treated by the hormone and the milk that isn’t. Xanthan gum has also been deemed harmless by the FDA.)

Arla is taking concrete steps to support kids’ health. According to Stohrer,1 in 6 kids still face hunger in America. To end that epidemic, Arla partnered with No Kid Hungry to campaign for school-based breakfast programs to be placed in the classroom or between periods, which will hopefully reverse the stigma associated with being the low income child in need who is at school early just to eat, and ease the burden of working families and parents who, in the current system, must get their children to school before classes if they want them to be fed. A silent auction following the screening allowed audience members to bid on the kids’ original drawings of the artificial ingredients, with all profits going to No Kid Hungry. 

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