Colorado governor stars in local produce ads - The Packer

Colorado governor stars in local produce ads

08/01/2011 09:26:00 AM
Tara Schupner

The Colorado state marketing program devoted to encouraging people to eat locally grown produce has a new star for its annual TV campaign.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is appearing in ads on Denver’s Channel 9 this summer promoting the Colorado Proud program, said Wendy White, marketing specialist in the Colorado Department of Agriculture Markets Division.

The 15- and 30-second ads began July 1 and will run through September, White said. The ads were filmed at vegetable grower Sakata Farms Inc., in Brighton, Colo.

“It’s a first for us,” White said, of the ads featuring the state’s chief executive. “(Former governor) Bill Owens did some public service announcements, but nothing on TV.”

While the governor’s participation is new, TV isn’t, White said. The department’s Colorado Proud summer ads have been the program’s marketing lynchpin for years.

“We’ve found it’s the most successful way to promote” local agriculture, White said.

Retail partaicipation in Colorado Proud, meanwhile, continues to grow, she said.

King Soopers, Safeway and other chains have increased their use of Colorado Proud in their own locally-grown initiatives.

King Soopers, for instance, has added a Colorado Proud section to its website, and the chain’s in-store promotions feature materials about the Colorado farmers who grow the fruits and vegetables it sells.

In addition to the TV campaign, Colorado Proud is co-sponsoring two events this summer and fall that highlight locally grown produce, White said.

On Aug. 25, Gov. Hickenlooper plans to host a garden party at the Governor’s mansion that will feature all Colorado-grown or -raised products.

It’s the first year the annual event has had a locally grown focus, White said. The event benefits a preservation fund for the Governor’s mansion. About 300 people are expected to attend.

“So far he’s been very supportive of Colorado Proud and very receptive to promoting local,” White said of Hickenlooper.

And on Sept. 25, Colorado Grown will co-host the second annual Forks in the Field event, in which local chefs cook local foods at a park in Douglas County. About 500 people are expected to attend.

“There will definitely be more this year,” White said.

Also on tap for Colorado Proud is the annual School Meal Day on Sept. 14, when schools are encouraged to serve locally grown foods. Local chefs will lead demos at select schools, White said.

There are no dedicated funds for Colorado Proud, White said. Instead, the program relies on federal specialty crop block grants and a Department of Agriculture fund.

“So far we’ve been very lucky to have the funds we need,” she said.

Colorado Proud launched in 1999 with 65 members. It now has more than 1,300, with membership drawn from the producer, association, processor, retail and restaurant communities. An estimated 300 members are grower-shippers of fruits and vegetables.

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