By Kristy Nudds
Bridging the gap between consumers and egg farmers is the goal of a new marketing campaign from Egg Farmers of Ontario.
Launched Oct. 4, the “Who Made Your Eggs Today?” campaign is the result of extensive consumer research undertaken by the EFO in the last year. The organization gained invaluable insight about what consumers want to know about eggs and egg farming.
The result is a consumer campaign that has a real “get to know me” feel. It utilizes 10 Ontario egg farmers and their families telling consumers about themselves, egg farming, and answering questions about eggs in videos available on EFO’s website, Facebook and YouTube, highway billboards, and transit, radio, and print advertisements. The goal is to reintroduce the farmer to the egg consumer.
The inspiration for the “Who Made Your Eggs Today?” campaign came from focus groups with a wide spectrum of women aged 25-60, as well as surveys and discussions conducted by EFO.
EFO general manager Harry Pelissero says that the feedback was a “learning curve” for the organization and that they discovered a lot of valuable information about consumers. The two biggest lessons learned were that consumers want to know where their eggs are coming from, and that they want to know more about the farmers who produce eggs, she says.
“We discovered that people have a hard time understanding that there is a farmer behind every egg farm,” he says.
Although EFO research and research conducted by other groups shows that farmers are well liked, and consumers feel comfortable with them, a great disconnect exists between consumers and the modern farm and modern farmer.
In the case of egg farming, EFO discovered that consumers often equate the production of a large number of eggs from one farm as being synonymous with a so-called factory farm. “They don’t think it’s possible for a farmer to manage it,” says Pelissero.
“Farmers are not good at telling their story,” he says. With the gap between urban consumers and rural farmers continuing to widen, consumers are hungry for information. Some also have striking misconceptions about egg farming.
From the focus groups, this fact was “painfully obvious,” says Pelissero. He cited an example where one woman in the group believed that eggs were 90 days old before being shipped to the grocery store, because this is what her father had led her to believe.
“It was evident that we have a lot of missionary work to do,” he says.
With the help of advertising agencies, EFO decided to move away from focusing on marketing eggs and put the focus on the producers. “We are treating this seriously. It just makes sense,” says Pelissero.
One of the farmers asked to participate in the campaign, Chris Mullet Koop, agrees. “This is where we need to go,” he says. “We need to establish a relationship between urban and rural, and help people learn about us and what we do.”
Koop, like the other participants (see sidebar), had a film crew and photographers visit him and his family this summer. The film crew, says Koop, had no previous exposure to an egg farm, and his children – Josiah, 10, Emma, 8, and Tim, 6 – showed the crew the work they perform every day. “I watched my children take pride in their responsibility, and it was a great honour to see that,” he says.
Participants and/or their family members were filmed answering one of eight frequently asked questions (see sidebar) from consumers visiting the EFO’s website. Additional videos also feature the farmers discussing family life, their farms and their contributions to community.
Photos of each farmer and family members were also taken, and will be featured on billboards on major highways throughout the province and on transit advertisements on buses, trains and subways in major city centres. Each advertisement reaffirms the commitment egg farmers have to producing quality eggs. For example, one of the transit ads shows Chris Mullet Koop in focus with scrambled egg on his fork, sitting at the family table with the words, “The Mullet Koop family performs the first level of quality assurance. They call it breakfast.”
Koop says he is excited to be a part of the campaign and is interested to see how it will turn out. Fellow participant Dianne McComb agrees. She hopes the campaign will help “rid people of this Green Acres notion of farming.” She wants consumers to understand that, just as their daily lives have changed with technology, so has farming. “No, we don’t do things the way our grandparents did, but we now have a better, safer, more consistent product.”
McComb, who farms with her brother and children in Lucan, Ont., was a natural fit for the campaign. “I believe in the message that we are conveying,” she says. She understands very well that consumers don’t know the basic processes that take place to produce eggs, as she actively participates in local fairs, answering a variety of questions consumers ask. “I always emphasize that eggs are locally produced, that consumers have choice in the type of eggs they buy, and that there is a great level of commitment and responsibility that goes into producing the eggs.”
“Consumers need to understand the care we give our hens every day,” she says. In her transit ad, she is shown smiling and holding an egg beside the words, “For some gals, white and satiny describes the perfect wedding gown. For Dianne, it’s the perfect egg.”
Koop anticipates that the campaign will help ease consumers’ minds and resolve the many questions they have. Pelissero hopes the campaign starts conversations. “We want consumers to ask us questions,” he says.
Pelissero says the “get to know farmers” idea will be the organization’s marketing platform for the next few years, and the organization will perform an analysis of this campaign to determine a long-term strategy.
To view the EFO videos, visit www.getcracking.ca
Farmers featured in the “Who Made Your Eggs Today?” campaign:
- Chris Mullet Koop – Jordan, Ont.
- Marcel Laviolette – St. Isidore, Ont.
- Hubert Schillings – Oshawa, Ont.
- William and Diana Schenk – Wyoming, Ont.
- Dianne McComb – Lucan, Ont.
- Harry Eisses – Innisfil, Ont.
- Luke and Sandra Van Aert – Watford, Ont.
- Scott Graham – St. Marys, Ont.
|Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions are answered by campaign participants or one of their family members on videos available on EFO’s website, Facebook and YouTube: