Case Studies

Rooted in Appalachia

The Challenge

Family farming has a long and proud history in the Appalachian region of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. Over the years, competition from mega-farms across the country and beyond has made it difficult for small farms to survive. Appalachian Sustainable Development and the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau chose to do something to help area farmers, local businesses and the community all at the same time. The Rooted in Appalachia program was created to educate the public about the many benefits of choosing local products, which will create demand at local restaurants, inns and retailers causing them to purchase more items directly from local farmers.

The Strategy

After exploring several distinctly different directions, Mikula-Harris settled on a fun, yet powerful message that equates the region’s proud agricultural tradition with other icons of the region. In the Bristol market, the local ad campaign connects family farming to racing and bluegrass music. In the Abingdon market, the campaign points to the Barter Theater and the community’s artistic reputation. In all cases, the advertising message is that local farms are as much a part of Appalachian life as these other cherished traditions and selecting local products is a smart choice.

The Results

The message is spreading rapidly through the community thanks to several promotional tools and some excellent media coverage. A series of four posters is showing up all around Abingdon and Bristol. The ad campaign began appearing in local and regional media outlets and table-top displays that fold into cubes are in participating restaurants. An interesting video tells the story of how products are carefully harvested on family-run farms and delivered to local restaurants at the peak of freshness. The centerpiece of this integrated marketing campaign is the website, which not only explains the benefits of local products, it makes it easy for consumers to find places committed to supporting the program. Rooted in Appalachia is projected to expand into other communities across southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee.

At our very first meeting with the Mikula-Harris team, they came to listen, learn and understand our goals for Rooted in Appalachia. That spirit of collaboration meant a lot to us. It’s reflected in the creative work, too. Not only does the campaign look great, it tells the public in a clever, yet direct way, exactly what Rooted in Appalachia is all about.

Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director for Appalachian Sustainable Development

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