As you can see, I don't often do blog posts. I save them for when I have something to say that is more than 40 characters or a short sentence. Today though the topic is the Superbowl. Seems in my world, it wasn't the final score, the referees, the plays on the field, or the teams that has everyone riled up but rather the commercials. Two commercials in particular.
If you aren't in North Dakota you most likely didn't even see one of the commercials that is being discussed but the other, the 6 for 6 Pack Commercial by Michelob, can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANarZ_113Xc. Although I have searched for a link to the CHS commercial that aired locally I can't seem to find one - would love it if someone had a link they could share. But the impression I got from it and what I remember as the message was "We're not going to let anyone tell us what to do". Please be aware I am NOT referring to the new CHS series of commercials about family roadtrips and the like - those are FUNNY! This one had a more serious tone.
So here goes my viewpoint rant - going to try and keep the word count here just under that of 'War and Peace'.
Business 101 - Every advertisement and marketing piece created by a company is meant to do one thing - get consumers/customers to agree that their product is the best or better than their competitors. It is intended to invoke action, to get customers or stakeholders to buy, donate, participate or in some way become involved with their product. In this respect I believe both commercials did what they were intended to do.
CHS's customers are its stakeholders. The majority of those that deal most heavily with CHS are farmers. Yes, yes, they have convenience stores and the average consumer shops there and buys gas there but being a cooperative the ones that REALLY matter are their shareholders and those people are farmers. The CHS ad in question sent a very direct message to farmers about independence, strength, and perseverance. All qualities that farmers and all those in agriculture pride themselves in and once in a while it's nice to hear that someone notices. Good job CHS!
However, from a strictly consumer standpoint, I believe this commercial failed. In a consumer climate where shoppers want more transparency in their food, where they want better labeling, in a time when fake news and sensationalized media bombard consumers until they don't know what to think about their Cheerios; I believe the message of "We're not going to let anyone tell us what to do" is a dangerous one. This message alone could widen the drift between the farmer and the American consumer.
If we want American Agriculture, specifically conventional agriculture to be viewed in a positive light by consumers, giving them this closed minded message "We're not going to let anyone tell us what to do" isn't really in my opinion the way to go about starting an open dialogue. Most businesses count on their customers TO tell them what to do - so they can improve their products and services.
Let me very clearly state that I wish I could find a link to this ad so I could view it again and maybe see it in a different light, but so far have not been able to do so.
Let's move on to the Michelob 6 for 6 pack commercial. This seems to be the one that is raising the most voices on Facebook and other outlets where my peeps hang out and voice their opinions. The folks that are commenting I believe are open minded folks that say they want all types of farming to be viewed equally, yet, they viewed this commercial and somehow got the message that Michelob was saying organic is better. I've watched the commercial several times and tried to wear my various hats: Consumer, Organic Farmer, Conventional Farmer, Educator - and no where in the words or the images did I get that same take away. If you did, I urge you to use the link above and watch it again - this time take off the goggles...
The commercial does say that organic farming is hard. And it is. So is conventional farming. But when you look at it from a business standpoint - which I believe is the message here - transitioning to organic can be a financial business burden. During the transition time the farmer either does not have a crop to sell or has an organically raised crop that she cannot sell for organic prices because it is not certified. This is especially true for row crops such as wheat. The commercial does not say you should drink organic beer because it's better. It merely says that if all those people represented did drink the organic beer the company would be able to incentivize more acres of organic land and thus ease the transition period for organic farmers. Not better - just more.
On the thought of incentives - this commercial hits another high note. It sends out an incentive for both farmers thinking of transitioning and consumers by laying out an incentive. Statistics and research show that young consumers are sending a message with their money. They purchase items that help a 'cause' and it is always a cause that this particular consumer believes in. They are in a sense voting with their money. They shop at Whole Foods, they buy Bombas socks and wear Rothy's shoes. This commercial gives them a reason to buy this beer if they choose to support this cause - organic acres. It also gives an incentive to the farmers who may feel they are supported in their transition to organic acres or their increase in number of organic acres because someone out there is building a market for their product. Good incentives on both sides - good job Mich!
While I'm not great at math and I still doubt that the math on this commercial adds up (really? 6 square feet? - how big of a difference can this make?) I do get the overall message. If more people chose this beer, more acres could or would be planted. They are targeting a specific market from both supply and demand side. Good business.
Now before all of my conventional Ag friends get all crazy on me - keep in mind that the percent of American consumers that specifically seek out solely organic products is very small - but on the rise. Seems to me that if you are trying to find that very small percentage of people who truly want only organic - that you would want to advertise for them. How many people do you know that go to the grocery store and ONLY purchase organic? Those that do so are making that choice - which I believe we as consumers should have choices but that's a whole different blog post - because they have specific beliefs about organic product and right or wrong those are THEIR beliefs and here in America they can have their own beliefs. They can be different from mine or yours but they are still welcome to have their own beliefs. It takes all kinds to make a world.
If we truly ARE going to treat all types of farming equally and see that ALL methods of production have value - both conventional and organic, then we MUST prepare ourselves for advertisements and commercials that tout one or the other as BEST or BETTER because that is Business 101 and the purpose of marketing.
Do you think Tide gets angry every time a Gain commercial comes on?
I'd invite you over for a beer and a talk about this, but all I have in the fridge right now is Michelob.