CWB says controversial ad met its objective

The chief strategy officer for CWB says the agency stands by its controversial ad depicting a cowgirl stuck on a fence, saying most people like it.

"We’ve got more feedback than I ever expected," said Dayna Spiring about the ad that has been running in farm newspapers in recent weeks.

Spiring acknowledged there have been some complaints about the ad from those who find the image degrading to women. But "overall, feedback was more positive than negative."

She said the "On the fence" theme was chosen to reflect the fact that because of all the changes that have taken place in the Western grain marketing scene in the past year, such as the move to the open market and sale of Viterra, many farmers have delayed pricing their grain.

In the past, most wheat marketing decisions were made by late autumn due to Canadian Wheat Board contracting provisions. CWB wanted to draw attention to that reality as well as highlight its voluntary pooling programs as options for farmers who remain undecided, she said.

"We had to cut through the clutter and make sure we got farmers’ attention," Spiring said. "This ad achieves that objective."

The suggestion to use the 1969 print by the late U.S. advertising and pinup artist Gil Elvgren came from an outside advertising agency.

Spiring said it’s too soon to tell whether the advertising has convinced more farmers to commit grain to the voluntary pools. "But traffic on our website and farmers getting information on the winter pools has increased substantially since the ad started running," she said.

The most notable criticism of the ad came from the National Farmers Union, whose women’s vice-president, Kathleen Charpentier, described it in a release last week as "harken(ing) back to times better left behind."

– Laura Rance is editor of the Manitoba Co-operator at Carman, Man.

Related stories:
A penny a plant?/Speaking of stacked (Co-operator editorial), Jan. 24, 2013
Une cowgirl pour vendre vos grains, Jan. 24, 2013