If you watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday, I bet you can guess what this post is about. But it might not be exactlyyyy what you’re expecting me to say.
If you weren’t able to watch it, here’s my issue in a nutshell: This year, Bud Light decided to air a commercial announcing that they make beer that doesn’t use corn syrup. (Click here to watch it.) There’s several reasons why this is a poor ad campaign choice…but I won’t bore you with all of them. I have ONE main issue with it, and that’s what I’m here to talk about.
Bud Light directly compared their product to two others. They essentially said “We don’t use corn syrup, but Miller and Coors do. And corn syrup is HORRIBLE.” Yikes! A very specific ingredient was negatively talked about, two competitors were called out, and MANY consumers were left confused. Following the Super Bowl, many corn farmers got upset and started a #DumpDillyDilly hashtag on social media. (I don’t think this will fix the problem but I’ll admit, I giggled because that’s pretty clever.)
Over the course of the last week, I’ve heard several comments on this topic. “If farmers don’t drink Bud Light, it won’t affect anything. There’s not that many farmers in the United States.” or “Corn syrup is actually really bad for you, so that’s a good thing that they don’t use it.” OR my personal favorite, “Bud Light isn’t even that good, anyway. Why does it matter what commercial they show?”
IT DOES MATTER. ALL OF IT.
The messages we send with food advertising and labels. The questions we bring to the surface with these same ads and labels. What consumers think of our food/beverages and how they’re produced. How we treat each other within the agricultural industry. The relationship we have with consumers and their trust in us as farmers. The food we work 365 days a year to produce.
ALL. OF. IT. MATTERS.
Now, I’m no marketing expert. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know all there is to know about selling products or making them seem more desirable to a customer. HOWEVER…as someone who works to tell the story of ALL agriculture, commercials like this make my job a lot harder. I have to not only fight negative messages that are manufactured by people outside our industry, but also help clarify messages that are created by our own people. Call me crazy, naive, or whatever you choose…but I think there has to be a better way.
Unfortunately, I see this happen a lot. Claiming that something is raised or grown a certain way, does or doesn’t include XYZ, and it is soooooooOOOoooOoOooOOoOoOoOoo much better than this other specific company or product because of these reasons…is why consumers get scared of and confused about our food system as a whole. We GOTTA do better, you guys.
Please understand this post isn’t intended to attack any kind of product, crop, company, animal, person, type of farming, or even commercial. I’m just saying I’m disappointed in Bud Light for creating unnecessary confusion and choosing negativity in their advertising to try and sell more beer.
Moral of the story, we should ALL talk about how awesome our “thing” is instead of comparing it to others and making them look worse. That’s how we will grow trust with consumers and improve our industry as a whole. This will truly put the decision into the hands of consumers for the food they want to buy. At the end of the day, we’re all farmers of some kind, trying to produce food for our growing world. And if THAT doesn’t deserve positivity and respect, then I’m not sure what does.
Until next time, friends!