How many positive messages about agriculture is enough to change minds? How about 50 million impressions in the next ten weeks.

Minnesota corn farmers want the public to know that farmers care about preserving the environment, and that ethanol made from corn helps the farm economy stay strong, while it achieves environmental, economic and energy security goals.

 Through billboards, bus signs, radio ads and hand-outs at the State Fair and Minnesota Twins games, these messages sponsored by Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council will make 50 million viewer/listener impressions between now and the beginning of October. That’s almost ten impressions for every man, woman and child in Minnesota.

 “It’s every farmer’s job to get the word out about agriculture, to educate a public that is very far removed from what we do on the farm nowadays. Because we farmers are a very small minority, the general public susceptible to misinformation about what we do,” said Redwood County farmer DeVonna Zeug, who is president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA). ‘We figure that everyone can use a conversation starter—whether they are chatting with folks at the café or sending out a Facebook message. These media messages will help every farmer reach out and educate people about how hard we work as stewards of the land, and the huge benefit to the public from farm-based energy.”

 One billboard shows the tasseled crowns and green leaves of a stand of corn reaching into a blue sky, and reads “ETHANOL. Clean. Renewable. Homegrown.” Another billboard shows a smiling man and daughter. She is on his shoulder, her arms clasped around his neck, their happy faces pressed together, and an expanse of cornfield is visible in the background.  The message reads, “Conservation. For a healthy farm. For a healthy future.”

 The strategy of using different media approaches will reach the broadest possible audience. 

 For a concentrated message to the state’s urban and suburban populations, the campaign includes 175 bus-wrapping type ads, that will be viewed an estimated 21 million times as buses weave in and out of traffic each day.

 Also reaching Twin Cities audiences, three radio stations—KSTP, KTMY and KDWB—will air corn grower messages a total of 400 times in the next eight weeks.

 Out-state, 15  billboards will make 13 million impressions to folks traveling the state’s highways and county roads. The ad campaign has bought 2,268 spots with radio stations that broadcast to greater Minnesota—16 stations will air the messages 15 times a week.

 One radio message means to break stereotypes while it builds bridges, so right off the bat, it presents a woman talking about how she is both a farmer and a mom. She tells the audience, “So here’s my typical day as a Minnesota farmer and mom. Get the kids off to school, check my computer, and head to work. Out the door, and into our family’s corn and soybean fields. But like a lot of parents, I’m also at other fields. (one hears the sound of cheering crowds at youth sporting event) Baseball, football, soccer. Cheering for my kids. You see, farmers like me aren’t that different than you. We both want the same things—safe, healthy food for our families now and in the future. And to make that happen means conserving and preserving the land for generations to come. It’s that simple.”

 A second message focuses on ethanol. Over the sound of ocean waves in the background, a man speaks, “Everyday it becomes clearer that Americans need to change how we think about energy, and what we are willing to pay for it. Not just the cost at the pump, but the environmental cost, and the price we pay to keep that energy secure. What we need is a cleaner, more environmental friendly and renewable alternative. (the sound of birds singing is now heard in the background, also).”

 The speaker continues, “Fortunately, it’s already available, and it comes from right here in the Midwest. Not the Mideast, or a mile under the ocean. Ethanol. Fuelling America’s future.”

 This season’s communications campaign also aims to bring the message to the places where all Minnesotans get together to have fun—right there in the thick of things at the Minnesota State Fair and Minnesota Twins baseball games.

 Working in partnership with the Minnesota Twins, MCGA has placed trivial questions about farming and conservation on the back of the “Twingo” game cards. These cards list the symbols for typical events at a ball game that would be noted on a handwritten score card—a backwards K for a strikeout, or a 6-4-1 for a double play achieved by shortstop, second baseman and first baseman. Like a Bingo card, when you have a symbol that matches what has happened you cross it out, until you get a ‘Twingo.’

 MCGA, working with partner KSTP-AM Radio 1500, is also preparing 30,000 give-away bags for the state fair, which will contain a trivia game about farmers and conservation. The radio station will hand these bags out to passersby at their state fair booth.

 And one more major bridge to Minnesota’s general public has been achieved by MAWRC—Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition. This group, which numbers MCGA among its members, will share messages about farmers and conservation that will air as part of “Ron Schara’s Minnesota Bound,” an outdoor sports and adventure show on KARE-TV.


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