IT'S time to cut the farming cliches from advertising, writes JIM GALL
Rural Australians are older, less educated, less wealthy, drink twice as much alcohol and are about as fit as the local publican.
They smoke more, eat poorly and are less likely to engage in formal exercise, according to the Roy Morgan State of the Nation Report 2012.
You could construe from this that all farmers are dim-witted bogans, and it appears making fun of them in marketing campaigns is just good sport right now.
They call it "building brand awareness".
It's all about getting the consumer to remember your product over your competitors' at that moment of truth in the supermarket.
Get the sale at any cost.
Who cares about the misconceptions it creates of the industry.
But is this the sort of awareness our industry needs right now?
The latest campaign for Dairy Co-operative Devondale has polarised the industry.
I am sure the mainstream consumer is blissfully unaware of our dairy farmers' discontent - as the Dev and Dale commercials play to the usual stereotypes that have plagued our farming industry for many generations.
We have an image problem and if we don't do anything about, we will be forced to import our workforce.
Recently, I was part of a round-table discussion at La Trobe University addressing the skills shortage in our industry.
I heard how the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre had introduced two incredibly successful initiatives driving industry awareness in mainstream schools.
Both initiatives "Cows create careers" and "Camembert in the classroom" have stripped away the cliches and painted an exciting picture of a career in the dairy industry.
Conversely, Animals Australia last month launched a slick television and online campaign attacking farming in Australia.
It implies most pig and poultry operations in Australia are rearing animals under cruel conditions.
It paints a picture of an industry stuck in the dark ages.
Frightening isn't it? Your right to farm is under threat.
Our industry has a responsibility at every level to present a sophisticated, and innovative industry, not Dad and Dave satire.
The industry is made up of young and intelligent people who are looking after the environment and the welfare of their animals.
Do you think Dev and Dale are capable of reflecting such a sentiment? Or is our only responsibility to sell more milk, butter and cheese?
Agriculture needs a rebrand.
- Jim Gall is managing partner of Redhanded Communications Group