Legendary Wildcard Boxing Club inHollywoodwas jam packed with reporters aligning themselves for a better position to interview Manny Pacquaio on Wednesday afternoon during scheduled media day work out. There were two people there that caught my eye, because they looked completely out of place. Not boxing people. The only person that paid any attention to them was promoter, Bob Arum. Who were they? Manny Pacquiao’s new business partners, representatives of State Street Produce. Produce? As I asked myself that question an old jingle popped into my head:” Popeye, the sailor man!”
No one has done more to promote spinach than Popeye, the Sailor Man.Its consumption increased 33 percent in theUnited Statesbetween 1931 and 1936 as Popeye gained popularity, saving the industry in the early part of the twentieth century. After eating spinach, Popeye, a cartoon character, righted the wrongs of the world. A flesh and blood, twenty first century action hero, Manny Pacquiao will promote broccoli while trying to save the world, at least his new business partner, State Street Produce hopes so. The announcement was made earlier this month during the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention that super star boxer/ singer / congressman, Manny Pacquaio partnered up withSan Antoniobased State Street Produce to launch a new label “Pacquiao Produce.” But wait a minute, Popeye the Sailor man is a figment of Elzie Crisler’s imagination and Manny Pacquiao is a real star athlete who already has multi million dollar endorsement deals with Nike and Hewlett- Packard. How can a relatively small produce company afford Manny Pacquiao?
“Obviously, we couldn’t afford $10 million- that’s a lot of produce,” said State Street CEO, Ted Ludeman in October 14th interview with Produce News:” So I had to come up with a different pitch. Manny Pacquiao goes back to his hometown inPhilippinesafter every single fight and feeds and gives money to every single person in the town. He sits out there for two days straight and just hands out money to people over and over and over until every single person in his town is fed and has money. I realized that this is bigger than us. Manny Pacquiao is green. What is greener than broccoli? Broccoli is as green as it gets. So I sat down and said, ‘Manny, we grow broccoli, we want you to endorse our broccoli.’ And he said, ‘You know what my favorite vegetable is? Broccoli.’And I said, ‘OK we’re on to something.”