Here’s a couple of questions I was recently asked to comment on…
What are some of the challenges involved with advertising to a rural audience?
There is no doubt that the biggest challenge of all is empathy. I can’t believe some of the ad’s we are exposed too that dumb farmers down, try to be funny, speak in funny “farmer” type voices, feature cartoons or packs of drench with wings attached etc. And we keep churning them out.
Granted not all farmers are rocket scientists but they are savvy and run multi million dollar enterprises – you wouldn’t advertise a BMW to CEO’s the same way we advertise to farmers. We stereotype farmers and they get highly irritated by it.
Marketers say they can learn a new industry and advertise to it (and to be fair some can) but I say… “In order to understand the Chinese you have to live there for 12 years”. No different here – you need to come from a farm, to grow up with farmers and to live rurally to really get it. There’s a lot of subtleties here.
Other challenges? – well you get this right and things tend to fall into place.
Why do you think mainstream agencies have thus far been reluctant to vie for rural clients, which can often be quite lucrative?
I wonder if, till now, the rural sector has been ignored or overlooked by advertisers in the face of more attractive sectors.
Farmers have taken a hiding over the past 30 years or so – do you remember the abolishment of SMPs? (no, not Single Minded Propositions). After that tourism took over as our biggest earner and became the glamour industry whilst farmers languished, having to compete with exchange rates (which have almost doubled over time) as well as the weather and an inefficient industry structure. Now we see things are turning. World food demand will double by 2050 and Asian countries are gaining a taste for proteins and animal fats (McDonalds does it again!).
So now we see agencies saying… “hey, maybe something’s happening here that we want a piece of”. This has been my observation over several decades though it’s hard to understand why when we are talking here of the most meaningful sector this country has. I love this sector, it’s the most meaningful and authentic and has some of the most honest, down to earth people in it that you will ever meet and is now becoming known for what it is – the future of this fantastic nation of ours.