Millions of people gathering in Times Square during the Christmas holiday season shopped, dined, conversed and on Dec. 31, rang in the New Year. And in the midst of the excitement and celebration, Iowa's farm families took center stage, courtesy of "It Starts in Iowa," an interactive eight-month campaign launched last week by the Iowa Soybean Association.
The consumer engagement activity accentuates the dedication and integrity of Iowa's farmers and the pride they take in providing safe, nutritious food. The message, featuring images of Iowa farm families and scenic farm vistas, airs 18 times daily through mid-January on the 20-by-26-foot CBS Jumbotron located directly beneath the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve ball.
"If you have a story to tell, the place to share it is Times Square," says Aaron Putze, ISA's director of external relations. "More than 40 million people will visit the major commercial hub during the next 30 days, including nearly three million on New Year's Eve. That's a tremendous audience and a unique opportunity to showcase the Iowa farmer's dedication to providing nutritious food in a sustainable and environmental friendly way."
National campaign champions farmers, launches in Times Square
In addition to its Times Square appearance, the video is being distributed to a nationwide audience via Facebook, You Tube and Twitter. To further engage consumers, the campaign encourages people to log on to www.ItStartsInIowa.com. The website features easy-to-prepare recipes, food trivia and timely information about today's farms and farm families.
Also, visitors to the site can participate in the "Be Our Guest, Be a Farmer" contest. It runs through April 29, 2011, and is open to any U.S. citizen residing in the United States 21 years of age or older who lives outside Iowa and is involved in a profession other than farming. One lucky contestant, accompanied by up to three guests, will be selected from all who register and receive a four-day, three-night trip to Iowa in August. The "vacation" will include guided tours of several Iowa crop and livestock farms, an opportunity to feed cattle, drive a tractor and enjoy a home-cooked meal prepared and served by a farm family.
Winners can visit a real Iowa farm, win trip to Iowa State Fair
In addition, the winner and guests will receive red-carpet treatment to the 2011 Iowa State Fair. The theme for this year's state fair, an annual celebration of food and agriculture held in Des Moines each August, is "Nothing Compares."
"The same can be said of Iowa farmers," Putze adds. "They are humble, hard-working people who believe in what they do and the way they do it. The 'It Starts in Iowa' campaign recognizes the role farmers play in providing good food that's affordable and nutritious."
The Iowa Soybean Association develops policies and programs that help farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. ISA is governed by an elected volunteer board of 21 farmers.