Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Understanding What We Eat

Tamoor Mir makes the case about why the agri sector needs to leverage the power of advertising to highlight its potential and benefits.
Updated 16 May, 2024 11:17am

Growing up in the nineties in Pakistan, a big part of my childhood was listening to ads on PTV. When I think back to those ads, a large part of my memory is taken up by classics such as Aye khuda mere abu salamat rahain, the Dentonic animated commercial, the Don Carlos experience and of course, the ‘Rhythm of Unity’ campaign. However, a large part of it was also occupied by watching agri-focused ads about pesticides and fertilisers. I swear, chitkabri sundi pops up in my head every few weeks because of those commercials and Amreekan sundi is still perhaps my favourite nickname for an annoying classmate. This got me thinking: apart from occupying a large part of my childhood, does advertising actually have an impact on the agriculture sector?

It seems like an obvious answer, as advertising has benefited every sector across the board, so why would agriculture be the exception? Ultimately, agriculture in Pakistan seems more like a sector that is being advertised to, rather than advertising its own produce. Whereas we are not surprised to see cars or washing powder sold under a brand name. In Pakistan, we would be shocked to see branded apples or mangoes. I would argue that this is a missed opportunity, although there are more indirect ways that advertising can affect the sale of agricultural products without resorting to direct branding.

Ultimately, at the heart of effective advertising lies the ability to bridge the gap between the world of agriculture and the daily lives of consumers. Through compelling narratives, captivating imagery and persuasive messaging, ads can serve as windows into the stories behind the food on our table and the hands that cultivate it. By showcasing the dedication, resilience and ingenuity of farmers and producers, advertising humanises the sector, fostering empathy among consumers.

In an age marked by urbanisation and a detachment from agricultural practices, advertising can be a potent tool to rekindle the connection between consumers and the source of their sustenance.

Whether through TVCs, social media or digital campaigns, ads bring the essence of a farm directly to consumers, transforming abstract farming concepts into tangible narratives that resonate with audiences of all backgrounds.

At its core, advertising serves as a catalyst for a demanding generation, igniting consumer interest and driving sales. By highlighting the quality, freshness and nutritional value of farm-fresh produce, advertising stimulates consumer demand for locally sourced and sustainably-grown foods. Through targeted marketing efforts, farmers and agricultural enterprises can reach new markets, expand their customer base, enhance brand visibility, and in the process, build habits for customers that ultimately benefit farmers.

Moreover, advertising empowers farmers to differentiate their products in a crowded marketplace, accentuating unique selling propositions such as organic certifications, fair trade practices, or farm-to-table freshness. Through strategic branding and messaging, advertising enables farmers to carve out a distinct identity in the minds of consumers, fostering brand loyalty and trust that transcends mere transactions.

In an era characterised by environmental challenges and calls for sustainable practices, advertising is a powerful advocate for sustainability within the agricultural sector.

Through sustainability-focused campaigns and initiatives, advertisers educate consumers about the importance of responsible stewardship of natural resources, regenerative farming practices, and ecosystem conservation.

By showcasing the efforts of farmers and agricultural innovators to minimise environmental impact, reduce carbon footprint and promote biodiversity, advertising amplifies the message of sustainability and inspires consumers to make informed choices that support eco-friendly agriculture. From promoting renewable energy initiatives to advocating for water conservation and soil health, ads highlight the collective commitment of the agricultural community to building a sustainable future for generations to come.

Advertising also plays a crucial role in fostering innovation and research. By highlighting cutting-edge technologies, scientific advancements and agronomic breakthroughs, ads inspire investment in research and development, driving continuous improvement and technological innovation across the value chain.

Through partnerships with research institutions, government agencies and industry stakeholders, advertisers can leverage their platforms to disseminate knowledge, share best practices and catalyse collaborative efforts aimed at addressing pressing challenges such as climate change, food security and resource scarcity. By showcasing the transformative potential of innovation, advertising encourages stakeholders to embrace change, adopt new technologies, and embrace sustainable practices that optimise productivity while safeguarding the environment.

While advertising offers myriad benefits to the agricultural sector, it also presents its own set of challenges. In an age of information overload and fragmented media landscapes, farmers and agricultural enterprises must navigate a crowded marketplace, competing for consumers’ attention amidst a deluge of messages, all vying for their allegiance.

We have seen this with services such as BaKhabar Kissan, which leverage digital technologies to distribute crucial information to farmers about agriculture and livestock best practices, weather information, agri-shops and more. At the same time, companies like Tazah Technologies are looking to address the agri-supply chain. Of course, with new technologies offering so much, there is the challenge of moving against the inertia of the status quo.

Agriculture is an ancient business and progress is continuous but slow. Moving the needle forward for a sector as set in its ways as agriculture poses a huge challenge for the agri-tech sector.

This is where the advertising industry can come to the rescue. Behavioural change has always been at the forefront of advertising by using smart messaging, communicating clearly and finding the right media to approach farmers while stating the benefits of upgrading to agri-tech services.

Furthermore, the rise of digital advertising platforms and social media influencers has reshaped the advertising landscape, offering both opportunities and pitfalls for agricultural advertisers. While digital platforms offer reach and targeting capabilities, they also pose challenges in terms of ad fatigue, consumer scepticism and algorithmic unpredictability.

In this regard, we know that with smartphones and telecom penetration in the rural population, the time is ripe for the dissemination of such messages, as farmers today are much more versed in digital technologies and open to using the digital world to assist and inform them.

In response, agricultural advertisers must embrace a multifaceted approach that combines traditional advertising channels with digital strategies, tailored to the unique characteristics and preferences of their target audience. By leveraging data analytics, consumer insights, and emerging technologies, advertisers can craft personalised messages that resonate with consumers, foster engagement and drive meaningful interactions.

As we navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving agricultural landscape, the transformative power of advertising continues to inspire, educate, and unite stakeholders across the food value chain by harnessing the creative potential of advertising, farmers, agricultural enterprises and industry.

Tamoor Mir is ECD, The D’Hamidi Partnership.