Let’s Get After It

by Clara Jacob
March 31, 2015

For quite a while now, agri-marketers have been talking about the importance of telling the farmer’s story.

We’ve urged farmers to blog, network, reach out to media and talk to consumers face-to-face.

Commodity groups like South Dakota Corn Utilization Council have moved the needle among consumers in South Dakota with This Is Farming, True Environmentalists and the Amazing Corn Adventure for children.

Nationally, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance provides education and the successful Food Dialogues program.

Recently the movie Farmland presented the farmer’s point of view to audiences nationwide.

These efforts are making a difference.

But companies and organizations critical of conventional agriculture are using innovative tactics.

Case in point: as part of selling burritos, Chipotle has created an entire platform that slams conventional farming.

With expensive, emotionally manipulative commercials like the Scarecrow, the Cultivate music and food festivals and The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, the company’s activities make consumers feel like they’re part of a movement.

Never mind that Chipotle’s claims about organic and “sustainable” farming are misleading at best. They’re savvy marketers, targeting a valuable younger demographic in ways that are engaging and fun.

While we may be doing a good job telling consumers about conventional farming, the information we present is serious and scientific. That’s appropriate.

But we need to do more. We need to make our messages every bit as engaging and fun as Chipotle does.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably among the thousands of food and ag marketing professionals in the U.S. and Canada.

So this is a direct challenge. Where’s our fighting spirit? Our creativity? Our professional pride? Can we put our minds together and figure out how to do this?

As Paulsen President Sara Steever says at the end of our Monday morning staff meetings: “Let’s get after it.”