SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The Idaho Potato Commission will “keep on truckin’” into 2013 ... literally.
The commission will feature its giant potato truck in TV ad spots beginning Aug. 31 during ESPN’s telecast of the Boise State vs. Michigan State football game and will feature the rig at stops across the U.S. for another year.
“I’m excited to announce we’re gonna keep on truckin’,” commission president and chief executive officer Frank Muir said at an industry breakfast Aug. 30 as part of the annual Idaho Grower Shippers Association convention.
Two 30-second ads featuring grower Mark Coombs and the “Tater Team” that tours with the giant potato truck will rotate from October through February in a national campaign that shows Coombs suggesting that the truck is missing and urging it to return home. The meat of the potato ads depict the Tater Team having fun with fans across the nation.
The second year of the truck tour will build on the 2012 campaign which has visited 106 cities in 31 states, generating 248 million media impressions, Muir said.
The 28-foot long, 11.5-foot tall potato truck has developed a following on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, generating 30,000 web hits and gathering more than 2,800 Facebook “friends.”
The Idaho Potato Commission looks to further leverage its social media success in 2013, planning an event for food bloggers, Twitter parties during key holidays and a recipe-of-the-month photo contest on Pinterest.
In addition to continuing the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl college football game sponsorship, the commission plans to for the first time run Spanish-language versions of newspaper ad materials and also feature spokeswoman Denise Austin on radio public service announcements, Muir said.
Although Muir said the commission plans to reevaluate its partnership with Austin next year, it plans to use Austin in radio broadcasts to reach up to 50 million radio listeners this year. Her website, deniseaustin.com, will also feature a recipe contest during Heart Health Month in February, as the potato commission looks to play up the recent findings that potatoes are heart-healthy.
Mr. Food and Miss Idaho Whitney Wood will also play roles in promotions this year, Muir said.
The commission also plans to enhance the recipe portion of its website and is creating a "Smashed Spuddy Buddy" toy/icon to help it reach younger audiences.
Original Spuddy Buddy dolls have been a big hit with children and members of the produce industry in recent years, and the commission used a limited-edition Spuddy Buddy — examples of which were given to convention-goers Aug. 30 — to help celebrate its 75th anniversary this year.