Land O’Lakes Features Female Farmers who Attract Millions of Viewers

Posted on by Patty Odell

Land O’Lakes just released the last video in a four-part series featuring female-led farms.

Karen Hawbaker with her cows.

The “On Her Farm,” video series offer longer-form content at a time when the general thought is that consumers have the attention span of a goldfish. Each video, despite being between seven- and nine-minutes, has shown impressive engagement. The videos tell the stories of female farmers from a variety of standpoints, including a multigenerational family, sustainability initiatives and personal passions around farming.

Previously Land O’Lakes campaigns focused almost entirely on the stories and quality of its products, but it has found true consumer interest through its storytelling strategy.

“We began to shift that approach toward telling our stories of farmers around 18 months ago and we’ve really seen positive, fantastic engagement,” says Anna Squibb, senior manager of integrated marketing communications for dairy foods at Land O’Lakes. “We recognize that consumers care about company’s origin stories and they use that information when they’re determining which brands to purchase products from or which services they want to use.”

The female-led farmer project was initiated over a year ago with The Martin Agency, based on an intriguing insight that at least one third of dairy farmers are women.

“We were blown away by that fact and dug a little deeper into that,” Squibb says. “Women have been farming for many, many generations and playing an important role on the farm for such a long time.”

The Martin Agency called on Tastemade, a global community of food, travel and design lovers, to develop the video series. It’s the second time the digital publisher has partnered with Land O’Lakes to connect consumers with the people actually producing dairy products through impact-driven storytelling that’s equal parts food education and cultural exploration, spanning across non-traditional media platforms.

The most recent video, posted Monday, Aug. 26, in celebration of Women’s Equality Day, tells the story of Karen Hawbaker. One of her top priorities as a dairy farmer is the comfort of her cows. Chef Courtney Guerra sees the trust between Hawbaker and her animals firsthand when she pays a visit to Warm Spring Dairy to learn about what it takes to run the farm.

To identify Hawbaker as a featured farmer, the team had the challenging task of narrowing down the large number of dairy farmers in its dairy co-op to just four. They selected women with compelling and interesting stories, like Karen’s.

“There certainly are a lot of moving parts in the process,” Squibb says. “I will say we have the benefit of 1,791 dairy farmers who are part of the dairy cooperative and that’s both a blessing and an overwhelming task to narrow in and focus on a handful of farmers who would be fantastic participants for this.”

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The videos were shot on site over six weeks on farms in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and California and have pulled more than 1.6 million views so far.

Last year, Land O’Lakes took on another angle related to female farmers. It rewrote America’s most iconic farming song, “Old MacDonald,” into a power anthem celebrating female farmers to help dispel the stereotype that farmers are all men. “SHE-I-O” received an outpouring of interest about what life is really like for female farmers.

“Old MacDonald is a stereotype that we’re all familiar with from the nursery rhyme,” she says. “It’s not all farmers who have the bib overalls and the gray hair riding the tractor. So many women are playing an important role. And we’ve wanted to shine a spotlight on the important role that they play in dairy farming and modern agricultural practices.”

The song released last fall and lit a spark in the direction Land O’Lakes wanted to refine in 2019.

“From there we really picked up speed and momentum and knew that we wanted to focus in more on those female farmers in a new slightly different way,” Squibb says. “And that’s where the Tastemade series was really born and really started to gain legs. We knew we could focus in on four families who had a heavily influential female farmer playing a role there.”

The four-part video series is being marketed through Tastemade’s platforms, including its app and social networks, as well as Land O’Lakes platforms. There are Instagram and social-friendly formatted pieces of content that show behind the scenes footage and imagery from the farms. All told, the content for the series has delivered nearly 11 million views.

“We have seen tremendous feedback and engagement from consumers,” Squibb says. “Humans seem to really resonate with the stories. In fact, I was going through the most recent story that launched with my team and we were reading the comments. So many of the comments are people praising the work that Karen is doing on her farm and really admiring her for her grit and her determination and feeling like she’s an inspiration, not just for other women farmers, but for women across industries. So seeing those types of comments and seeing how consumers and people are feeling about the content is really a huge win for us.”

The first video launched at the end of June to align with Dairy Month. The final video airs through the end of August. The target is the female Millennial consumer, which the team fondly refers to as “Meg.”

“She’s sort of the every woman,” Squibb says. “She believes in purchasing the best for her and her family. She cares about the world around her. She cares about what life and the world will be like for future generations. And she loves butter.”

The video series is tightly aligned with Land O’Lakes broader marketing strategy, which includes advertising, PR, social and digital, as well as limited events.

“A lot of times, from a media perspective, we’re told that the shorter the content the better or consumers don’t have the attention spans that they once did because they’re inundated with messages every day,” says Michelle Daidone, vp and group media director, Cultural Impact Lab, The Martin Agency. “We’re kind of going against the grain there because this story is really important and meaningful. We didn’t want it to be stripped down to just 15 seconds. It was a really great way to embrace a partnership that allows for longer form content.”


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