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Flipping the Narrative on COYF’s Target Audience

COYF Case Study -  Feature Image


Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program recognizes young farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession. The program is a pillar in Canadian agricultural communities and promotes Canadian agriculture to the broader public.

Each year one farming couple is selected as the national winner, receiving a financial award and widespread recognition within the Canadian agricultural community. 

Goal: Increase Nominations for Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer

COYF wanted to expand interest in the program and generate pride and participation from a new generation of farmers. 

Success for them meant increasing the number of nominations for the award program.


COYF Case Study - Campaign Landing Page-1

Strategy: Target the Nominators, Not the Farmers

COYF’s marketing was designed to encourage young farmers to put themselves up for the award. In order to drive more nominations, we wanted to understand what motivated young farmers to nominate themselves in the first place. 

We began by interviewing program stakeholders to get their input, and early on we uncovered a surprising fact - young farmers don’t nominate themselves. 

Digging deeper into our audience with further research, we found that most young farmers don’t think they’re doing anything special, and that most won’t nominate themselves out of humility or because they don’t think their operation would qualify to win.

Instead, the majority of the program nominations - almost 70% - come from ag community leaders and institutions that want to support young farmers, are interested in promoting Canadian agriculture, and who themselves benefit from the recognition of having a COYF winner in their community.

Our goal wasn’t to convince young farmers that they should be nominated - it was to convince their sponsors and their communities, too.

COYF Case Study - Print Ads

Results: Increased Nominations and Farmer Pride

The creative team at COYF’s ad agency used this insight to develop a campaign, called "Flip the Narrative," casting young farmers as heroes and highlighting the work that they do.

While some marketing tactics continued to be directed at the farmers themselves, channels and content were expanded to include agricultural community leaders, groups, and supporting institutions. The key message was simple: Nominate a young farmer in your community.

The campaign, consisting of print, digital, and social media advertising that drove to a nomination landing page, won at the 2023 Canadian Agri-food Marketers Alliance (Best of CAMA) awards and “provided Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program with a new perspective in the 2022-23 ad campaign that was well received by members and sponsors,” said Carla Kaeding, Program Manager at COYF. 

Most importantly, it succeeded in meeting COYF’s business goal. The program saw almost 10% more nominations in 2022 than in the previous season.