Anti-agricultural groups are extremely effective; not because they provide the public with relevant facts about agriculture, but because they have consistent messaging and imaging which portrays their message. They also target specific audiences whom they know they can have an impact.
Here are three ways anti-agriculture groups market their agenda to consumers:
1. Fear-based marketing
Fear-based marketing tactics are some of the most popular tactics utilized. We often see them when looking at genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Despite research showcasing the safety and sustainability of genetically modified crops (“Are G.M.O. Foods Safe?”, The New York Times), groups maintain their opinion GMOs are unsafe for human consumption and should not be allowed in the marketplace.
Fear-based marketing works by invoking fear into consumers. Look at the image above. I had classes on crop science in college, so I understand the science of GMOs, and yet the gloved hand holding blue corn takes me aback for a second. What do you think of when you see this image? The groups who created this image want consumers to fear where their food is coming from.
2. Publicity stunts (Guerrilla Marketing)
Groups, especially People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), utilize publicity stunts to capture the attention of consumers and media. Their stunts are extremely eye-catching. Stunts in high-traffic areas allow them to make big impressions, as people take pictures and share the message with others.
3. Search Marketing
Have a question? Not sure of the answer? “Google it!” While Google has many positives, it also has some downfalls. One of the greatest downfalls being if you search a very simple phrase from agriculture you will more than likely receive responses with anti-agricultural tones.
For example, I typed “animal agriculture” into the search bar. Thanks to Google’s algorithms and certain groups paying to promote their articles at the top of the page, I got to read about how “Animal agriculture is choking the Earth and making us sick” and how “Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction”. Are these facts? No. Yet, search marketing is a driving force behind consumers’ misunderstanding agriculture.