What if a non-profit organization like OFA served as the vehicle that collects annual dues from the entire supply chain for a unified marketing campaign?
Former OFA President Danny Takao introduced this idea to GreenhouseGrower.com readers in last week’s Benchrunner, and readers responded with tremendous enthusiasm. Seventy-one percent of GreenhouseGrower.com readers say they would support a campaign with contributions that ranged from $200 to $1,000 per year, according to our online poll.
Takao’s idea was met with an assortment of reader comments, as well. The Ivy Farm’s Richard Davis, for example, writes that a unified marketing campaign is long overdue.
“Our industry needs to be in the face of the American buying public, reminding them of our value and importance to all of [their] lives,” Davis says. “The coordination of this endeavor will not be easy, but the benefits to our industry and our society will far exceed the efforts needed to bring a national marketing campaign together.”
Plant Delights Nursery’s Tony Avent challenges the idea, arguing such a campaign is only feasible if it’s voluntary.
“If you try to make it a mandatory assessment it’s as good as dead,” Avent says. “If you don’t believe me, ask the folks at ANLA who tried this same thing over a decade ago. They thought the required vote was a done deal, until we informed everyone that the federal government would put a lien on your business if you didn’t pay.”
Stan Pohmer, Pohmer Consulting Group, also weighs in with a challenge.
“I’m a believe in the power of national promotion of our industry,” Pohmer says, “(but) the only method for mandatory collection of assessments is through the USDA-managed Promotion Order program, and only growers can be assessed under this program. There is no provision for collecting from manufacturers, distributors or retailers.”
Takao agrees it’s virtually impossible to mandate everyone in the supply chain contribute based on sales volume. Still, he argues it’s time to clear hurdles like the ones Avent and Pohmer describe and ultimately come up with a solution.
“I know we’ll never get everyone on board to support this, and I know there are two things that will happen from this point,” Takao says. “We can figure out a way to fund this or we can let this drop like we have done for the last 20 years.
“I’m not saying this national marketing campaign is going to save our industry. It’s just one of the things we can do along with how we present ourselves and our products in this new era. With a smaller customer base, the worst thing for us to do as an industry is nothing.”
Takao envisions a group representing all segments of the industry coming together as a next step. The group, he says, could determine the best way to move forward with such a campaign.
"It will be crucial to get the right people in this group," Takao says. "There will be opportunities to collaborate with other organizations to spread the word, but this is all in the early stages, and we need to see if there is enough interest to at least continue the dialogue."
Read additional comments in our original story here.