I’m not the most frugal of individuals, but I’m by no means a spendthrift. Either way, I have little respect for things crossing my desk that strike me as a colossal waste of energy, time and money.
Task force committees that have met for nine months and produce a beautiful report and recommendations that are destined only for a shelf. Elaborate media kits.
Last month we received an eight-page, four-color, glossy 8 1/2-by-11 booklet from the Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center in Stratford, Iowa. It was “A Report to the Food Sector.”
Each page was devoted to a large photograph and short paragraph about an issue, like “America’s Dairy Farmers Care for Their Animals.” Exclamation point. And, “America’s Dairy Farmers Produce Safe and High Quality Milk.” And another exclamation point.
The brochure wasn’t particularly well designed. In fact, it was downright boring. I can guarantee you I’m probably the only editor who kept it for more than 24 hours.
Accompanying the humdrum design was even more pitiful writing. Oh, I know, let’s trot out a phrase no one has ever heard before: “Nature’s most perfect food – milk.” Or “Responsible milk producers are true stewards of the land …”
And here’s a stellar sentence you should copy and put on a poster in the barn break room: “A genuine love of producing food for others makes working on a dairy farm a noble profession.”
The farm owner may feel that way, but the midnight milker trying to get the last straggling, bullheaded Holstein into the parlor is thinking more about his genuine bovine hate rather than producing milk for Joe Six-pack.
I don’t know who the center was targeting with the brochure (what’s the “food sector”?), or who the message was designed to lull to sleep, but a lot of money was spent on nothing. No message. No results.
Maybe a farmer on the center’s board loved the brochure, but the best farm marketing efforts are the ones farmers never see. They’re the marketing campaigns geared toward restaurants or foodservice companies, chefs or dietitians, children or soccer moms. It’s the product placement in a box-office smash, or a mention in a metro food column.
Farm groups or checkoff boards need to hire the most savvy marketers they can afford and then stay out of the way. Think ‘got milk,’ not WKRP’s turkey drop.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell thinks the new Burger King king is scary. She can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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