Q&A with 2020 Foggies Campaign of the Year: Ketchum, who creatively brought California cows to children during COVID
As 2021 kicks off, we are continuing to highlight our winners of PRSA-SF’s annual Foggies Awards. We are taking you deeper inside our chapter awards program, to learn more about each winner – what makes them tick, how their winning entry came about, how much work went into it, and more.
Please meet the 2020 Foggies' Campaign of the Year winner, Ketchum, and their partner, the California Milk Advisory Board. Learn more about how they created the “Farm To You Virtual Field Trip.”
Tell us more about yourself.
Ketchum is a global marketing communications consultancy, structured by industry experts and dedicated specialists, that is in every major market worldwide. Our food team includes B2C and B2B marketers, registered dietitian nutritionists, trained culinary professionals, and earned/paid/social media specialists, who creatively establish presence and preference for fresh foods and food brands with consumers, retail, foodservice, and food manufacturers.
Part of the Food, Ag & Ingredient industry sector, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is one of many farmer-funded boards Ketchum has served over the past 65 years. We are an insights-driven agency. Our strength is that we hone in on the why and then we supplement that with breakthrough hows. Though we don’t just come to clients with big ideas, we also sweat the details.
Tell us about your winning campaign/entry. How did it come about, what were the highlights, how much work went into it, results, etc.
In March, the COVID-19 shut California schools, canceling farm field trips and at school visits.
Teachers needed help, and CMAB needed a novel way to teach children where their milk actually comes from — family-owned farms that are models for food safety, sustainable production, and national leaders in the dairy industry.
That gave us an idea: If children couldn’t come to the cows in person, we could send whole herds to them. Virtually, that is. We wanted to engage children, bring interactive farm excitement to the pandemic schoolhouse, and familiarize kids with the origins of milk. So, we partnered with California Dairy Council’s existing Mobile Dairy Classroom, which puts cows in trailers hosted by a dairy educator, and took the farm tour to counties across the state.
In just 10 days, the virtual field trip established a new working partnership between two of the state’s most important dairy organizations, and the program launched. More importantly, in just 6 weeks, 10,000 students, educators and families tuned in to 52 live virtual farm trips. Kids met hundreds of cows up close, named some, and came away with a new appreciation for the milk that some kids thought appeared in stores magically. The program opened California dairy farms to a wider swath of students from ever-more diverse backgrounds and distant regions.
Results from the post-event survey showed 90% strongly agreed that they “learned how milk and other dairy foods get from the farm to me,” 83% reported “I better understand the connection of healthy eating and agriculture,” 87% of teachers are somewhat or very likely to extend the learning from the virtual trip into the classroom, and 84% of teachers are likely to recommend our virtual farm trip to other schools, principals, teachers or parents/students.
What does it mean to your team to take home this win? How will you celebrate?
It was an honor to receive the award! Both the Ketchum and CMAB teams are thrilled! It is even more special to see California’s 1,200 dairy farm families recognized, something that doesn’t often happen when competing against big consumer brands. CMAB enjoyed the champagne gift basket from PRSA-SF and we celebrated virtually together!
What should the Bay Area know about you/your team?
The CMAB team at Ketchum is passionate about food marketing and client service. Specialists – from issues & crisis to dietitians –are embedded with the core team for seamless collaboration. The account is led from Ketchum’s San Francisco office, which allows us close access to the tremendous agriculture communities throughout California and provides responsive client attention. Several team members grew up in the Bay Area and join with several more who proudly call the area home.
How has the pandemic affected your approach to communications?
Nimbleness has been a huge key and the "Farm To You Virtual Field Trip" program is a shining example. With so many different activations focused on in-person components, along with the dynamic news cycle, it has become incumbent on our teams and our clients to think outside the box in how we are able to tell our stories and how they resonate with audiences who are focused on some of the most important stories of our lifetimes.
What advice do you have for handling PR during the COVID-19 pandemic?
As we’ve all learned in our personal lives during the shifts between “stay at home” orders and ever changing restrictions, flexibility is key both personally and in public relations. You need to be prepared to shift campaign strategies and tactics to fit not only within the parameters of what’s allowed from a COVID-safety perspective, but also from a coverage standpoint – COVID-19 didn’t have the market cornered here as 2020 also had other big stories such as the social justice movement and the U.S. general election to name a few.