Can a state be a brand? Of course it can. Anything can be a brand if it has coveted meaning.
Consider Idaho potatoes. For whatever reason, we associate that state with the best potatoes in the land, even though Maine produces just as many. Maybe it has to do with the state’s license plate, which reads: “Famous Potatoes.”
Therefore, as Idahoan Foods rolls out its first national TV campaign this month, it already has a brand that will largely make the campaign a success. If you have a brand to back up your messages, you get noticed.
I’m not so confident about the TV spot itself, though. The focus is on fresh, a farm-to-table strategy that says these potatoes come from “real” farmers. That doesn’t seem to distinguish it all that much from potatoes grown elsewhere. Aren’t those potatoes grown by farmers too?
What would be better is if the ad focused on what Idaho means, rather than on the product itself. Fresh and real are table stakes in the food industry. All players claim to be fresh and real. (It also doesn’t help that what we’re talking about here is the mashed potato mix.)
A little stronger emotional intensity, something around what Idaho means that no other state brand can claim, would give this campaign the punch it needs.