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Idaho Potato Commission ‘superheroes’ attract thousands at Fresh Summit

The Eagle, ID-based Idaho Potato Commission’s retail superhero campaign came to life — literally — when industry professionals hobnobbed with bobblehead-like Fearless Field Force members at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit event in Atlanta in October.

Thousands of Fresh Summit attendees could not resist the appeal of the commission’s larger-than-life superheroes in seven-foot-tall costumes next to their real-life counterparts, the commission’s field representatives. Retail Promotion Directors Bill Savilonis, Ken Tubman, Larry Whiteside and Kent Beesley have been immortalized in the commission’s award-winning retail promotion campaign as bobblehead keepsakes and star as cartoon superheroes in both print and on-line ads and a comic book.

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Fearless Field Force members Larry Whiteside, Bill Savilonis, Kent Beesley and Ken Tubman with their superhero alter egos.

“At least a few thousand people had their pictures taken with the superheroes, and many, many more stopped by the IPC booth to see them,” Seth Pemsler, vice president, retail-international, said in a Nov. 1 press release. “There was a tremendous buzz about the IPC booth at the show. It was a unique, highly successful way to get everyone talking about Idaho potatoes.”

The superhero costume heads and suits, which were worn by local actors, were designed by EvansHardy+Young Inc. and manufactured by Scollon Productions Inc., one of the world’s premier costume character companies. Each costume head was painted and colored by hand to look like one of the four field representatives, and the commission’s logo was silk-screened directly onto the custom spandex suits.

The real-life field representatives did not know their alter egos would be staffing the booth with them until they walked onto the show floor the first day. Mr. Pemsler said in the release, “It was a big surprise, but they were absolutely thrilled when they saw the giant superhero versions of themselves. People would come into the booth and get a picture taken with the retail guy himself, and then with the superhero character as well.”

Commission booth workers handed out cards that directed attendees to the Idaho potato Facebook page, www.facebook.com/famousidahopotatoes, where they could find and download their pictures.

“I posted the picture on my Facebook wall, and since then I’ve received many comments and compliments from family and friends,” Dan McGrath, who is in sales and marketing with Freska Produce Inc. in Oxnard, CA, said in the release. “My response is always, ‘Those guys from the Idaho Potato Commission do something fun every year.’”