college campuses. It’s become quite popular. An OTA intern, who’s a student at
Colgate University, facilitates the blog. There’s been great coverage of the blog
from other publications. It’s emerging as a real place for discussion on college
campuses about sustainable choices, with representatives from at least 25 different universities that regularly post comments and articles onto the blog about
efforts that they’re undertaking on their campuses.
One of the neat things about blogs and having this kind of ongoing stream
of conversation is that they’re focusing on creating change on their campuses.
They highlight what works and what doesn’t work in terms of getting support
“Marketing is not an option;
marketing is a line item in your budg”et.”
for the introduction of organic products into the cafeterias, or in the form of
organic t-shirts and sweatshirts for the university stores. The blog is going to
spin off into a guide for how to go organic on college campuses, which is going
to be published very soon.
show this June. Before the trade show,
we will be doing consumer events and
sampling in the Chicago market.
There are three potential elements
to the program. One is a standalone
event that is fully focused on organic.
Families can experience organic products and kids can learn about organic
production in an interactive, fun agricultural area.
The second option is to provide organic sampling and education at existing attractions in Chicago like the zoo
or other places where families gather.
The third component would be
guerilla sampling, which would be mobile and targeted, featuring street
teams with backpacks and such.
Bushway: College students, of course, are our future, long-term consumers.
They’re young and many of them will have children. We know their interest is
key for us, so it’s great to be reaching them this way. It also gives organic another voice of authenticity.
OP: You’ve also mentioned something
called an “input almanac.” Can you
please tell us about this?
OP: You plan on reaching 25 million consumers in 2009 alone; how do you plan to
maintain this momentum?
Bushway: One of the things I said when I was being considered for this position
is that marketing is not an option; marketing is a line item in your budget.
Coming from an advertising and marketing background, I have seen how campaigns like this can dramatically help the agricultural and food industries. Plus,
our membership has told us this is a huge issue for them. I think the important
message here is that this marketing effort isn’t a one-time thing, this is just getting our toe in the water.
OTA is looking at marketing as a strategic priority going forward. It needs to
be a part of the way we do business as a trade association.
OP: OTA is also planning to reach out through in-home consumer parties and large-
scale demonstration events. Can you talk about this more?
Batcha: We’re looking at ways to create an opportunity for organic products
and the organic message to be experienced in a more intimate environment
and to take advantage of the power of the word-of-mouth.
For example, with the back-to-school program, we’re looking at working
with parent groups and providing information packets or guides to get them
engaged in authentic choices in their children’s schools. We want to provide
that information to small groups of people with a high level of interest and give
them an opportunity to take action.
On the other end of the spectrum, we are also planning large-scale demonstration events in Chicago in conjunction with the All Things Organic trade
Batcha: This is a tool the industry can
use to educate consumers. The almanac is a compilation of data regarding the chemical inputs that have not
been released into the environment as
a result of organic production and
For example, it might say something like, “As a result of the sale of X
organic products in the U.S., X number of tons of pesticides and fertilizers
have not been released into the environment in 2008.”
Because it’s going to be linked to
our Manufacturer Survey, it can be
broken up by category. It can also be
forecasted into the future. We’re starting with basic inputs, focusing the first
year around pesticides, and then we
can expand that to include other practices related to organic that people
care about, like carbon sequestration
or animal welfare.
OP: Do you have any advice for what or-
ganic companies can do to help with this
campaign and spread the message?