If you watched the Academy Awards on Sunday evening, McDonald’s joined a growing list of companies to feature farmers sharing a message regarding the quality of the food they produce. The message featured a California lettuce grower talking about the high quality of his lettuce and how improvements have reduced the time his product spends traveling from field to table. It is one of three videos the company has touting its farmer-suppliers.
McDonald’s is not the first to use farmer-feature ads. Grocery stores, checkoff programs, restaurants and other food industry professionals have taken to the airwaves touting their farmer connections.
While the McDonald’s ad follows the traditional route of hard-working farmer providing high-quality food, others, like the Chipotle restaurant chain, have opted to promote a particular style of farming. In its two-minute ad featured during the Super Bowl, Chipotle promoted the company’s philosophy of farmers returning to “natural” husbandry practices, turning their back on what the company apparently believes are “factory farming” practices. Since the Chipotle ad’s airing during the Super Bowl, it has had nearly 6 million Internet views, in addition to the Super Bowl audience of 111 million.
What does this mean for farmers? Besides putting farmers in the advertising spotlight, it looks like the farmer-friendly trend will continue. The advantage of the advertising is it provides a great discussion for farmers to have with consumers. However, the ad campaigns will require vigilance as well. Advertisements always have an angle to the message.
-- Charlene Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor