“We sponsored a fireworks show at a Friday night game, which was attended by more than 4,000 people. Local farmers passed out Farm Families of Mississippi refrigerator magnets and recipe cards featuring Mississippi commodities. The TV spots were also played on the Jumbotron at center field and farm facts were read over the public address system between innings. We also purchased a banner that will hang in the stadium all year long.”

Looking at numbers from a survey following the campaign, “It’s really evident that the public not only got our message — they remembered it,” Gibson says.” We really hit a home run.”

A Web site was created (www.growingmississippi,org) to promote all the things farmers do for consumers, and includes links for the TV spots and other materials. There is also a YouTube link to a video about the campaign (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on9XOF596jk).

The campaigns are concentrated in February, Gibson says, because “that’s when most people are inside watching TV, and that’s when the Mississippi legislature is in town.”

The 2011 campaign, he says, will feature all new TV/radio spots, billboards, etc., continued participation with the Mississippi Braves team, and sponsorship of activities at the Mississippi State Fair. “We also hope to make this a part of our Ag in the Classroom program, with Farm Bureau educators going into schools and talking about the importance of agriculture.”

The larger budget for 2011 “will allow us to add the Biloxi-Gulf Coast market — another fast-growing, basically urban population that knows little or nothing about agriculture.”

Farm Bureau was also successful in getting a USDA grant of $50,000 to promote specialty crops in Mississippi, Gibson says. “We were able to fold the grant money into the image campaign. Among the specialty groups featured will be the state’s beekeepers.

"We plan for this to be a long-term effort, to keep the message before the public," he  says.