A potato farmer’s advice can be very useful…when you want to know about potatoes. When your question isn’t of the spud variety, not so much.

To drive home the message that Lay’s are made with 100% Canadian potatoes, Frito Lay Canada asked Toronto-based BBDO to come up with a humorous campaign that made ‘Farmer Joe Oulton’ a household name, and that got commuter attention through about 20 national radio spots with a local twist.

In the style of a radio call-in show, ‘callers’ would ask Farmer Joe for driving directions. The calls were city-specific, for example a caller from Toronto asking about directions to Markham or a caller from Calgary lost on the Edmonton Trail. Instead of answering their geo-targeted inquiries, he gives them directions to the nearest farm where Canadian potatoes used in Lay’s chips are grown. The spots start with a perky announcer introducing the ‘show’ and close with Joe proclaiming that, ‘This program was brought to you by Lay’s. Simply made, simply good.’

‘This was creatively a new area for us,’ says Ian MacKellar, ECD at BBDO in regards to the location-specific script writing. ‘We’ve done regional radio, but as far as pinpointing to actual potato farms, this was new.’

The call-in show theme launched with TV creative – three 30-second spots that first aired during the Super Bowl depicting Joe at a desk surrounded by barrels of potatoes, answering calls.

When it came to deciding a strategy, MacKellar says that this was clearly way to go. ‘He’s such a genuine character, and I think that helped reinforce what we were trying to get across, which is that this is a simple, genuine food from a simple, genuine company.’

The ongoing campaign has Canadians craving chips. According to AC Nielsen data, the potato chip category is up 18% versus the year prior, while Lay’s is growing even faster at 26%. And while Toronto residents may still not know if they can get to Highway 7 via Highway 407, at least they now know that potatoes grow in Brantford.


Being told that you’re fat and ugly over and over again is most people’s idea of hell. But for those with eating disorders, this is what’s contantly playing inside their heads. That was the insight behind an attention-grabbing radio spot for the Looking Glass Foundation, a B.C.-based non-profit that supports adolescents with eating disorders.

For their first foray into the ad world, the organization turned to DDB Vancouver last summer to create a pro-bono campaign that included four radio spots. One featured a young woman’s voice constantly repeating the words ‘you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re ugly…’ with interspersed sentences explaining that this inner dialogue is a reality for those living with eating disorders.

Other spots in the radio push featured two voices, one talking about eating disorders and the other speaking about a common killer disease like cancer. The ads demonstrated that the symptoms for both were often identical, like lack of energy or hair loss, showing that eating disorders are just as deadly.

In developing the strategy, DDB interviewed sufferers of eating disorders as well as physicians and experts. ‘There is that misperception that an eating disorder is more or less a rich girl’s disease,’ explains Daryl Gardiner, associate CD at DDB. ‘This whole campaign attempted to change that and to open people’s eyes to how severe eating disorders are.’

The radio spots were part of a bigger push that harnessed TV, print, online and OOH ads, as well as a guerilla marketing effort that included spools of thread and toothbrushes with shocking stories written on them about how they’ve been used by people with eating disorders.

The campaign clearly drove the message home. The foundation was able to increase donations enough to purchase a piece of property and inn on Hornby Island, which they are currently renovating to be a new treatment centre set to open January 2010. Powerful stuff.

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