IPC Rolls Out New TV Ads

Published online: Sep 19, 2018 Articles Rand Green
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Source: The Produce News 

Idaho Potato Commission president and CEO Frank Muir can hardly constrain his enthusiasm when he talks about the two new television ads the commission has created for the 2018 marketing season. Both ads continue the theme of the fun, popular and award-winning TV campaigns of the last several years that play off of the highly successful ongoing national tours of The Big Idaho Potato Truck. In previous ads in the series, an actual Idaho potato farmer, Mark Coombs, is shown searching around the country for the lost Big Potato Truck. In one ad, for example, he and his dog, Spudhound, were driving around the country in his 1955 Studebaker pickup looking for the truck. In another, they took to the air in a vintage bi-plane to continue the search.

The two ads for 2018 are called Secret Weapon and First Bite.

“In Secret Weapon”, Muir said, “we have taken the ’55 Studebaker truck and turned it into a hotrod complete with an over-stacked engine, a chromed-out blower, and flames painted on the side. Like Wile E. Coyote, who is always coming up with some crazy ways to try to catch the roadrunner, the farmer and Spudhound keep trying new ways to catch the missing truck, but they never turn out the way the farmer hopes.”

The First Bite ad continues with that theme, but also introduces a new element.

“Something we have noticed,” Muir said, “is that whenever a plate of food is put in front of you and there is a side dish with potatoes—whether it be french fries, a baked potato, mashed potatoes, hashed brown potatoes, whatever—the very first bite is the potato. When ordering a burger and fries, for example, you don’t bite the burger first. You taste the french fries.”

That is something no one has ever pointed out before, he said. And yet when it is called to people’s attention, he said the common reaction is, “You know, that’s right. I never realized it, but I do.”

The new ad has fun with that. “We have created commercials using our farmer in a local restaurant here in Boise who points that out,” said Muir. Several vignettes will then show people being served wonderful dishes — and tasting the potatoes first.

While the farmer is talking about the first bite phenomenon, he sees the Big Idaho Potato Truck, that he’s been looking everywhere for, drive in front of the restaurant. “So he has to run out and try to chase the truck down,” Muir said.

“It is a fun way to bring appetite appeal back into our ad campaign and to point out something that is very intuitive but no one has really ever promoted—that the first bite of any great meal is always the Idaho potato,” Muir said.

The campaign kicked off Sept. 15 with an airing of the First Bite ad during a nationally televised football game between Boise State and Oklahoma State. Then it will run basically every other week from late October through early April, with the exception of December, on national cable TV and on syndicated programming.

Lamb Weston, which recently introduced a new Grown in Idaho frozen french fry product line, will be spending even more money on advertising than the commission. Its ad schedule will be coordinated with the commission’s ads to run on alternate weeks.

“Lamb Weston is utilizing our farmer, Mark Coombs, in their advertising, so it looks like a frozen execution of our fresh strategy,” Muir said. “That’s great leverage. They are leveraging what our programs are, and they are leveraging the Grown in Idaho seal,” adding that to consumers it will feel like a continuation of the same ad campaign every week for about 19 weeks.

“I am extremely excited about this year’s TV campaign,” Muir said. “Consumers will see two different campaigns, but they will build upon each other.”

Meanwhile, the Big Idaho Potato Truck will begin its eighth tour in 2019, equipped with a new, fiberglass potato that is stronger and slightly smaller than the original. Initially, the tour was created to celebrate the commission’s 75th anniversary, and the potato, built of concrete, was only intended to last through one season.

Since then, the truck has traveled more than 170,000 miles, visited more than 8,000 cities, and has appeared at hundreds of events, large and small, and in parades all over the country. “We have attended 42 events where over 350,000 people were in attendance and 61 events where over 100,000 were in attendance,” Muir said.

The popularity of the Big Idaho Potato Truck has become legendary. “We even have super fans—folks all over the country who will drive for hours to come see the truck even though they have seen it already.”

The commission continues to support RODS—Racing for Downs syndrome—and numerous other charities. In fact, in most of the communities the truck visits, it supports a local charity.

“Potatoes USA has been pushing potatoes as a performance food,” Muir said. “We’re 100 percent on board with that, and in fact, Idaho has been promoting that concept for years.” This year, as last year, the commission has purchased multiple TV spots during coverage of the Boston Marathon, the Iron Man world championship triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, and the Amgen Tour of California, America’s answer to the Tour de France.

“We also just finished the 40th anniversary of the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, which had over 3,000 participants,” Muir said. “We continue to support Idaho football with permanent signage in the stadiums of Boise State, the University of Idaho and Idaho State,” he said.

On top of all this is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Game. Last year’s game between Wyoming and Central Michigan achieved spectacular national publicity due to a performance that brought Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen into the national spotlight. Allen subsequently was taken seventh in the NFL draft and signed a $22 million contract.  The publicity has netted Idaho potatoes more than 8 billion media impressions. “The estimated value of the bowl game to us is $16 million,” Muir said.