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Wisconsin group plans new promotions, Harley promo evolves

by Tad Thompson | September 12, 2010
Two new web sites, a recipe contest and a new direction in the two-wheeler giveaway program at the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association highlight the group's upcoming promotional plans.

Tim Feit, director of promotions and consumer education for the Antigo, WI- based group, reviewed these and other promotions Aug. 31 with The Produce News.

It had been about two-and-a-half-years since the growers association created a new web site. Subsequently, "We weren’t thrilled with it as far as how easy it was to update. We wanted to do that in-house and we were unable to. The other challenge was to talk to consumers. We wanted to give recipes, nutrition information and information on different varieties." The web site previously had been geared more toward the trade. “It was hard to talk to both groups using the same web site.”

It was decided to create two web sites, which was what the U.S. Potato Board did when it created for the trade and for consumers.

For consumers, the Wisconsin potato group is creating, which in late August was expected to go live in early September. Mr. Feit said that his organization’s existing site will be tailored to serve the trade, but the address will remain

The sites will be maintained in-house, which will allow maintenance on a timely basis and increase effectiveness. “No one wants a static site that never changes. We can define who we talk to better and have more updated content. I think it will be really exciting.”

One of the more distinctive Wisconsin potato promotions in recent years has been the annual Harley Davidson contest in which a motorcycle is given away to a winning produce buyer. In what has been called the “Spudster” promotion, one trophy Harley, professionally painted with art reflecting Wisconsin potatoes, been displayed each October at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention before it is presented to the winner.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Feit said, “A lot of people are concerned with the environment and the green message.” He said that his organization aims to represent healthy potatoes and agriculture. From this sprung the decision that motor scooters are “a little more environmentally friendly.” So the “Spudster” has gone the way of the dinosaur and the Wisconsin growers will be giving away five motor scooters instead of one Harley — and for the same expense.

Among the advantages in the change are that there will now be five winners from “across the supply chain spectrum” instead of one in what has been dubbed the “His, Hers & Yours” promotion.

“His, Hers” references one household winning two scooters; one each for the man and woman of the home.

In the “Yours” sector of the trade promotion, one scooter will be given to a produce manager in a store. Another will go to the Wisconsin potato shipper who most-successfully develops sales. Meanwhile, produce buyers stay in the motorized biped race by being eligible to win one motor scooter.

Wisconsin potato growers are providing point-of-sale materials to retailers to promote “His, Hers & Yours.” The industry notifications will go out in October to prepare the trade for the January scooter contest kickoff.

“We are going to put custom decals on the scooters to make it like a 'Spudster’ Harley.”

Mr. Feit’s group is also going to be running a “Win with Wisconsin Potatoes” recipe contest beginning this fall. This will be supported by new point-of- purchase materials (see Consumer recipe contest popular, page 32, for more information).

He said that all of Wisconsin’s major potato shippers will be attending PMA’s Fresh Summit convention in Orlando, FL, this October, and they will be based in the association’s booth, promoting Wisconsin potatoes.

To “be quick on our feet” and maximize the “not-huge budget” of the potato and vegetable association, some inexpensive promotions are also in the offing. These are “a small portion of what we do but a nice way to interact with people.” The efforts include launching a Facebook page for Wisconsin potato fans. “People love finding out about their food. This is a perfect tie-in to our web site.”

The association is also involved in local promotions such as the sponsorship of the college football “Spud Bowl” Sept. 18 at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. Mr. Feit said that Stevens Point is amid the state’s potato- growing area, where “some people still don’t know that Wisconsin is the third-largest potato producer in the country.”

At the Spud Bowl, the association will sell baked potatoes and give away relevant t-shirts to attendees.