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Redefining how people assess the intersection of food, technology and the environment.

It’s kind of bizarre when you think about it: agriculture is one of the few industries where technological innovation is looked at with suspicion. When it comes to things like health care, transportation, communication and energy, we openly embrace the power of human innovation.

But with agriculture, it’s a little different.

At the same time technologies like fertilizer, pesticides, advanced seed breeding and GMOs have increased the efficiency of food production around the world, a vocal minority of consumers have actually been clamoring for a big step backwards, toward an imagined (but not historically accurate) world in which food grew “organically,” without the aid of human technology.


So what?

OK, that’s not really such a big problem, is it? Well, not for the organic food industry, that’s for sure.

But at a time when science, technology and human ingenuity are sorely needed to address population growth and conservation of the world’s natural resources, we cannot afford to have a citizenry that fundamentally misunderstands the motivations of today’s farmers, and is resistant to critical innovations.

Along with Monsanto, we helped conduct interviews with citizens around the United States to better understand their perceptions, hopes and fears about the state of agriculture. What we found was eye-opening.

Cattle peering through the wood slats during a walk through with Michael Moore, Roseville, IL.

Outdated Perceptions

The majority of the people we met with believed that there is a big distinction between “organic” farming and so-called “conventional” farming. They believed organic farming doesn’t use pesticides (it does), and they closely associated conventional farming with technologies that are more than 20 years old, including GMOs.

It’s not “organic” vs. “conventional;” it’s “modern” vs. “non-modern.”

When we started talking about the data and digital revolution that has been taking place on modern farms over the past decade, it was their turn to have their eyes opened: they simply hadn’t considered the possibility that smart technology was leading to smarter use of things like water, soil and energy on the farm. It was a different way of looking at the “debate” over methods of agriculture. It’s not “organic versus conventional; it’s “modern” vs. “non-modern.”

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The Initiative

To help inform and motivate influential consumers, we created an integrated messaging initiative under the heading “Modern Agriculture.” TV spots, print and digital advertising drove our audience to a website, ModernAg.org, that blossoms with in-depth content about the direct role human innovation and agricultural technology are taking in reducing the volume of natural resources humanity needs to feed itself.

There’s a perceived dichotomy between innovation in agriculture and environmental preservation. In truth, the two things go hand in hand. This :30 spot is our love letter to Mother Nature complete with an original music composition.

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To introduce the idea of data science helping modernize agriculture, we shot a beautifully clear evening with millions of stars. They're a visual metaphor for the millions of data points that inform daily farm decisions.

Our position is juxtaposition. It's the smartest way in, given what our target thinks about modern agriculture, and what it is in reality. As such, the cornerstone of this campaign is We Give Back by Moving Forward. At first glance the two directional words are as different as night and day. But they compete with purpose.

Modern agriculture is an evolving approach to agricultural innovations and farming practices that helps farmers increase efficiency and reduce the amount of natural resources—water, land, and energy—necessary to meet the world’s food, fuel, and fiber needs.

Modern agriculture is driven by continuous improvements in digital tools and data, as well as collaborations among farmers and researchers across the public and private sectors. 

Visit ModernAg.org.

On ModernAg.org, each piece is intended to inspire a new fascination within the readers. The content is tasked with sharing how the industry is using technology, intelligence and digital tools not to conquer Mother Nature, but to conquer human impact.

ModernAg.org has numerous pieces of content supplemented with animations and live action video. 

No scripts, no direction, no talking points. Just five people talking about one of the most important industries in the world–Modern Agriculture.