ACDC News – Issue 05-12

How urban media are portraying rural America.

Results of a 2004 survey for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation suggested that urban media largely present rural America “as a vestige of our past facing an uncertain future.” Researchers at the Center for Media and Public Affairs found coverage “not associated with agriculture or countryside so much as empty space and the real or imagined qualities of small-town living.”

  • Land use and zoning was the number one rural topic covered.
  • Only three percent of media rural stories involved farming.
  • Only one percent of all sources quoted had any connection with agriculture.
  • Three out of four terms used in rural stories to describe rural America had a positive tone.
  • Although rural news increased by 57 percent over 2002, it decreased by 23 percent on television.

Reference: Media coverage of rural America : 2004 vs. 2002
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Cranking up advertising of organic food.

A recent article in Advertising Age reported plans by Kraft Foods and Campbell Soup Company to advertise organic foods nationally. It explained that organic foods make up only $5-17 billion of the $500 billion food business.

“Still, with health concerns hanging over the industry, there’s promising data showing an eight-year trend of consistent double-digit growth for organics compared with the 3% annual growth rate for mainstream foods.”

Reference: Kraft, Campbell bank on crop of organic efforts.

 Strategic change in generic commodity promotion.

A recent research paper illustrated how the dairy industry is responding to “relatively stagnant growth in check-off revenues, combined with strong increases in media advertising costs.”

Researchers Todd Schmit and Harry M. Kaiser reported a case example that reflects a strategic change in generic commodity promotion – from advertising toward non-advertising programs. Their study tracked results of a relatively new retail promotion activity aimed at improving the management, appearance and operation of dairy cases in supermarkets and convenience/drug stores.

Reference: The Dairy Case Management Program: does it mooove more milk?
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How a specialized community newspaper serves a rural minority.

We have added to the ACDC collection a success story about Idaho Unido , the only Spanish-language newspaper in Idaho . This bi-weekly, published since 1995 in a small rural community, “emphasizes local news but also carries state, regional, national and international news for the fastest-growing minority population in Idaho.” Seven-eighths of those Hispanic residents live in non-metro areas.

Researcher Martine Robinson Beachboard concluded: “ Idaho Unido has demonstrated that with a minimum of capital investment, strong motivation and a strong work ethic, it is possible to produce a viable media product serving the needs of a widely distributed Hispanic population.”

Reference: Providing print media that meets the needs of Hispanic populations.
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Food Network – “one of the best examples” of cable narrowcasting.

An article in the 2004 edition of Encyclopedia of Television described the evolution and progress of the Food Network. By the end of 2001 this cable network, first developed in 1993, reached more than 76 million homes. Author Megan Mullen said these factors are critical for success with specialized programming in a commercially driven television environment:

  • Solid financial backing.
  • A favorable regulatory climate.
  • A program category with established popularity.
  • A program schedule that can be linked to a large number of viewer interests and advertised products.

Reference: Food Network: U.S. Cable Network

Do words influence smells? 

Sight of a word can influence activity in the brain regions that are involve smell, according to results of a study reported recently in Neuron. Food marketers and others may be interested in findings that pleasant words influence olfactory brain regions to perceive an odor as pleasant.

“In their experiments, researchers…presented subjects with a cheddar cheese odorant and showed them labels that read either ‘cheddar cheese’ or ‘body odor.’ They found that the subjects rated the odor significantly more pleasant when it was labeled ‘cheddar cheese’.” Even clean air labeled as “cheddar cheese” activated a part of the brain region that processes olfactory information.

Reference: Words influence smells 
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Calling for examples of brand failures. Can you help? 

We usually focus more on success than on failure, but communicators get some of their most valuable lessons through trial and error. In that spirit, please send us examples of failed efforts to market food or agriculture brands.

You may have read about them, heard about them, or maybe even experienced them. They may be recent or historic, massive or tiny, local to global, and from any part of the world. You need not provide complete case histories, although those would be welcomed as ACDC resources. Even a brief brand identification and description of the failure will be appreciated. Thanks.

Communicator activities approaching.

July 31- August 3, 2005
“Agricultural Media Summit .” Professional development conference of the  American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA),  Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and AgriCouncil of the Association of Business Media Companies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA .

August 31- September 4, 2005
“The New Role of Agriculture.”
Conference of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Thun , Switzerland .

More on communicating with animals.

“I guess I liked my horses better than people,” wrote Richard Harris, foreman of Murphy Ranches in Texas . “I’d be with my horses all the time, talk to them, call them names. Some horses are pretty smart.”We came across this comment by Mr. Harris (1891-1988) while exploring the Institute of Texan Cultures during the recent ACE/NETC/EVP/ACT conference in San Antonio.

When you see interesting items you can’t find online or locally,

Get in touch with us at . Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue , Urbana , IL 61801 ) or electronic form at

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