When a pasture-raised egg farm is named Locally Laid, it gets some notice. Follow that up with the tagline, “Local chicks are better,” and that’s plain sassy. But when the cheeky wordplay gets a sustainable farm to within clicks of the biggest 30-second ad buy on sports television, well, that’s worth breaking a few eggs of decorum over.
We didn’t start with aspirations to be one of four finalists vying for a Super Bowl ad, an unprecedented stage for a product like ours. Our aspirations were more humble, like achieving middle class. We simply wanted to produce Real Food while treating animals and the planet well in the process. And support our family doing it. That’s the sustainable ag hat trick: Not an easy goal.
For Locally Laid, it’s meant eschewing the direct-to-consumer model of many small farms and breaking into the scarier world of business-to-business sales. My husband, Jason, walked into restaurants and grocery stores, egg basket in hand, and literally sold each chef and dairy buyer on our superior product and our story.
It’s also meant doing something many earnest farmers won’t do: Marketing and self-promotion. We touted our hens on pasture as “salad-eating poultry athletes,” explaining that a healthier bird will lay a healthier egg*. We invested in beautiful packaging designed by a talented graphic artist, Matt Olin. We wrote out our environmental ethos and locavore vision, so when asked, we knew it by heart. We named all 2,500 of our hens LoLa, short for Locally Laid–and the title of a really cool Kinks song. Then we built a brand around all of it with earned and social media.
This was my 4 a.m. task, every morning, before I readied the kids for school and headed off to my mortgage-paying day job while Jason hit the hoop coops.
And now we’re a hen’s feather away from a pasture egg getting the same stage as Doritos. How did our long-shot start-up survive the whittling of 14,996 small businesses down to four? Sure, a few people voted for Locally Laid because of the double entendre, but I believe people came back for the daily vote click because they saw something more. They watched our upbeat video and felt the substance behind our sauce, the care for our flocks and our commitment to better, local food choices.
Honestly, I’m generally not competitive, but I find myself wanting to win this. I made the Target cashier promise to go to VoteLola.com every day. He was in a vulnerable position as he rung up my new underwear; I have no time to do laundry these days. But I can only be this shameless because it’s not just for me.
I mean, sure, I want my highly mortgaged farm to get exposure. It would be great for Locally Laid, but how much attention does a chicken need? Surely, not 110 million viewers. In my dream sequence, LoLa starts a national conversation about America’s need for more small- to mid-sized farms. People start looking not just at the nutritional box on food packaging, but at exactly where that food product was produced.
If we win, I have no idea what the commercial will look like. But I’m guessing that, like our name, it will be memorable.
Vote here by December 1st. You can vote everyday without signing up for anything.
*A Mother Earth News study found that eggs from chickens on pasture have less fat and cholesterol and more of the good stuff like Omega 3s.