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Celebrate Oregon Agriculture campaign ready for year two

The campaign aims to grow the purchase, preparation, and consumption of local food

It will take a long and sustained series of messages to move the needle when it comes to increasing the purchase, preparation, and consumption of healthy, locally produced food. But after a successful first six months, the Celebrate Oregon Agriculture campaign is gathering support and momentum as it reaches out to Oregonians in a variety of multimedia platforms. The partnership responsible for creating and implementing the campaign is excited for what’s to come in 2013.

“This campaign hits a target market that we are looking for– people not necessarily familiar with all that goes into Oregon agriculture but who cherish local foods,” says Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “To be able to highlight Oregon agriculture and talk about what it means to the state’s economy is very important.”

Coba is lending her voice and face to the campaign as a lead spokesperson in television ads aired on Portland’s KATU Channel 2 since last summer. Her tag line, “We’re Oregon agriculture, ask for it at your grocery store, farmers' market, or restaurant,” captures the campaign’s ultimate goal.

Aimed primarily at parents and caregivers of school-aged children, Celebrate Oregon Agriculture uses TV, print, and online resources to reach the audience. Start-up money came from USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered in Oregon by ODA. The Agri-Business Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy Council/Oregon Dairy Products Commission also helped the campaign get off the ground financially. KATU and ediblePortland– both website and magazine published by Ecotrust– have been major vehicles for delivering the messages. A variety of partners have joined along the way.

“We wanted to kick it off and we were hoping others would see value in it,” says Coba. “That’s exactly what has happened. From producer groups to processors to grocery stores, a variety of groups have signed on and are supporting the campaign. I’m thrilled that we are getting to this point.”

At the heart of the campaign are four marketing objectives:

  • Elevate awareness of and attitudes about, and utilization of, Oregon’s agriculture products.
  • Educate the public about the availability and affordability of local agriculture products.
  • Help parents and caregivers of school-aged children understand the connection between healthy food choices and the overall health and well being of their children.
  • Motivate parents, and give them the knowledge and skills needed to have their children participate in the growing, harvesting, cooking and serving Oregon’s agriculture products.

Perhaps the most visible components of the campaign have been found on KATU Channel 2. Between June and December last year, in addition to the campaign commercials featuring Director Coba, five television segments were produced on location and two in studio. Each four minute segment aired on the popular morning talk show AM Northwest. The informative segments covered such topics as U-pick farms, fall and winter gardening with kids, healthy snacks for kids, and frozen holiday treats. ODA Farm to School Program Manager Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe is regularly featured in these segments.

“In a short six months, we were able to feature more than 47 great Oregon agricultural products,” says Ratcliffe. “We featured the different forms those products are offered– whether they are fresh, dried, canned, or frozen– we talked about how they can be prepared, and we talked about where viewers could find those products. We were also excited to highlight the producers and processors of these great products.”

The Portland television market is the 22nd largest in the nation. The Celebrate Oregon Agriculture TV segments potentially reach 88 percent of the nearly 1.2 million households in the market. AM Northwest is one of Portland’s most watched local morning programs.

“The campaign has gained some traction with our viewers over the first six months,” says KATU account executive Erick Garman. “As well as watching the segments, our viewers are recognizing the commercials.”

On the print side, ediblePortland ran full page ads for the campaign in its summer and fall issues. Online presence perhaps is the most important component. AM Northwest and ediblePortland websites promote the campaign and also link to all the TV segments, which can be viewed online as well.

“I’m really pleased with the first year of the campaign,” says ediblePortland Publisher Ericka Carlson. “It is really focusing on the key messages we want people to know about– the bounty of agriculture in our state, what it means for Oregonians to support local growers, and the message of agriculture’s importance to the economy. I find that very powerful. People don’t always connect the dots when it comes to agriculture and this campaign has allowed them to connect the dots.”

Messaging through a broad campaign like Celebrate Oregon Agriculture will take a long time effort in order to move the needle very far. It also needs support from as much of the agriculture community as possible. Through such efforts as farm to school and school gardens, youngsters are getting educated about agriculture but they aren’t getting that same education at home. That’s where the campaign fits.

“We really need to change the social norms and culture around food,” says ODA’s Ratcliffe. “Laying the groundwork for the campaign, we have worked to develop messages that influence consumer behavior so that parents are buying it, kids are trying it. As often as possible, we want to make these messages consistent with those being delivered by other producer groups and commodity commissions.”

Meanwhile, ODA is exploring new partnerships for expanding the Celebrate Oregon Agriculture campaign. A major processor, Norpac Foods, and a well-known retailer, Whole Foods Market, are the latest to sign on. Ratcliffe says she is optimistic the promotional campaign will have a major impact over time.

“Maybe someday, Oregonians will be saying, Oregon agriculture, why buy food from anywhere else?”

For more information, contact Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe at (503) 872-6620.

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