I find it somewhat funny how the “Happy Cows” commercials are coming under fire…from our own industry. Speakers at the Cal-Poly dairy symposium on Oct 17, 2009 claimed that the “Happy Cows” campaign give consumers the wrong idea. Even more ironic is two days before the symposium the “Real California Milk” website had crashed due to the rush of votes coming in to vote for the next “Happy Cow”. We had 60,000 votes last week alone. The website was down for two hours. The voting had reached nearly 550,000 votes. I don’t know how anyone can dispute the fact that over a half of a million votes for a “Happy Cow” could be negative. As a dairy famer who invests my ten cents per hundred weight of milk and could not be more pleased with that exposure to consumers for my product that I want them to purchase.
My question is, what has happened to our sense of fun and fantasy? Are we becoming so jaded that we can not enjoy 30 seconds of entertainment? Really, I get a big kick out of the “Shabby Chickens” trying to become “Foster Farms” chickens. Do I really think they drive in a car to get to California and eat junk food on the way? I enjoy the lizard selling insurance. I also enjoy the “Jack in the Box” ads, but really, the well spoken CEO in a suit with a “Jack in the Box” head? Reality they are not, but funny they are!
Look at entertainment in general. Entertainment magazines and reality shows are huge. We go to movies filled with comedy, action and fantasy. Millions of viewers enjoy these escapes from their everyday lives. Why? Most of us still have a sense of wonderment and fun. As we dredge through our daily grind we just want a bit of laughter and entertainment, a bit of a break from reality. It is necessary for a happy life.
I do not have chicken experience, I love to eat chicken, but honestly, I do not want commercials of their raising, killing, plucking, and butcher. It is reality, this I understand fully, but I don’t want to see this reality popping up in my face as I prepare dinner with the TV on.
If I do want to research a food or a farming method I will do so. I appreciate having access to find answers to my questions. If you go to www.realcaliforniamilk.com (where you go to vote for the Happy Cows) the first thing that you see is the “dairy documentaries”. It introduces you to families and facets of dairy farming. THEN, you proceed to the “voting”. As those half of a million (plus) votes were coming in that is a half of a million chances of people being exposed to the farmers and their methods. Voting continues and they come in daily.
I have chosen to take to another sector, the “blog” world and hope to reach out to those that visit that area for their information and entertainment. I show my practices in a raw and unedited way with the introduction of “Chica”. I don’t do this for my fellow dairy farmers as they understand our methods. I am reaching out to those that do not have “dairy” experience or even a different type of dairy operation.
Unfortunately, no one has found the “silver bullet” to connect to everyone. Advertising is very expensive so you hope to reach as many as you can with monies allotted for that. There are many types of personalities. The extremist are the hardest to connect with as they often see one way and anything off course from what they believe is considered “the enemy”. They use “shock” to bring attention to their mission. Extremist, however, are not the majority. They are vocal and use these tactics to lure those that do not know the difference.
That is why we, individually, need to speak out as well. We need to continue to educate the value of dairy and to expose all aspects of dairy farming. Introduce to consumers dairy practices from grass-fed to conventional, small to large. I believe that we are on our way to doing so.
Entertainment sells and that is what the “Happy Cows” are doing….entertaining! Let’s lighten up….we all deserve a bit of a laugh!