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Accidental content marketing: Popeye and the spinach industry

Popeye gave the urge to eat spinach

Created in 1929 by the American Elzie Crisler Segar, Popeye has been a favorite for several generations. The character has the characteristic superhuman strength when eating spinach. Moreover, he uses and abuses this vegetable champion in vitamins and iron to get out of delicate, but humorous, situations. The first time Popeye made his appearance, America was in a state of depression.

Amazingly told by the author, watching old episodes of Popeye has given him the urge to eat spinach. Better still, after a few searches, he realized that he was not the only one to have craved spinach after watching an episode of this old cartoon.

Sales of spinach increased by 33% across the United States

This phenomenon is intriguing enough to take a close look at it. We soon learned that sales of spinach had increased by 33%, while the whole of America suffered from a crisis. Aware that Popeye was no stranger to this impact, Crystal City in Texas, and Alma in Arkansas, each erected a statue of the sailor. These two communities are specialists in the cultivation of spinach.

Even more incredibly, the Popeye image continues to work for this vegetable today, as sales are still going strong, and companies are surfing the tidal wave of popularity. The cannery, Allen Canning, produces and decorates its canned spinach with the image of Popeye. Another example is Pope Fresh Foods, whose fresh spinach bags feature the photo of the pipe-toting sailor.

Is it a coincidence, or a disguised attempt to manipulate consumers?

Faced with such a situation, it is wondered in some circles whether the increasing consumption of Popeye spinach is not a perfectly timed marketing blow. Surprising as it may seem, it is not, and the character was not created by the spinach industry. It was not created either to help sell spinach. In fact, the tinned sustenance was chosen a little by chance, perhaps because it is a source of vitamins and iron. Finally, it can be plainly seen that the fall in prices of spinach at the time did not in any way favor the economic crisis of 1929.

Popeye had an accidental but happy impact on the spinach industry

Since his appearance, Popeye has increased the popularity and sales of spinach in the United States, albeit, not intentionally. Nevertheless, the phenomenon exists, and it is explainable. It is not a matter of advertising, but of content.

The creators of Popeye have created extraordinary content, in which spinach restores strength in every episode. Without knowing it, they accidentally generated entertaining content, a particularly powerful element in content marketing.


[Source: Scott Aughtmon is a writer, business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist and speaker. In an article published on, he explains how the character, Popeye, has become the emblem of accidental content marketing.]


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