When the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition approached Victoria Weeks, owner of Verglas Media, about the FarmFreshWV advertising campaign, she knew she had a unique opportunity to convey an important message.
“The thing about the FarmFreshWV campaign, not often do jobs come to us for all the different advertising elements to be done at once,” Victoria Weeks said.
The campaign intended to promote awareness of local farmers markets throughout the state and to increase sales. Promotion through advertising was at the forefront.
“Not only did we need to make commercials but we needed to create a website to let them know where there market is,” Weeks said.
So Davis’ own Verglas Media set about assembling all those pieces that form a successful media campaign. With additional support from Co-Producer Bill Peterson, Weeks created all the radio, television, and billboard advertisements, the social media posts, and the website for the campaign.
“So our question was, ‘How do you get people to go to their farmers markets?’ You can’t just put up a billboard that says, ‘Go to your farmers markets.’ That doesn’t work,” Weeks said.
To answer this question, Weeks decided to create an interactive map of West Virginia markets on the website to help facilitate the user experience. Users can locate the nearest market by zip code or town name and find all the pertinent information, including whether programs like SNAP or WIC are accepted.
After months of filming in the field and workshopping the different campaign elements in her office, the campaign went live.
Soon thereafter, FarmFreshWV won the Best Overall Advertising Campaign award at the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The West Virginia Tourism Office presented the “Stars of Almost Heaven” award to FarmFreshWV.
“I think when you’re in any creative process, you wonder, ‘Is this right? Am I on the right track with this?’ The fact that so many people have responded to this is an honor. It’s definitely an honor that I didn’t expect, but I’m certainly honored,” Weeks said.
“Vicky stayed true to her vision, and she didn’t know that would come to anything until it actually played out,” Peterson said.
“I certainly believed in this project. Food is something I care about. Even though this campaign is essentially commissioned art, where you use your skills at someone else’s behest, to be able to still make art and to have a client that saw that doing something that wasn’t just the standard could potentially reach more people,” Weeks said.
Adhering to a dictum passed down from her mentor, “If you’re creating something that is really personal and that really matters to you, it will resonate with other people,” Weeks said.
A large feature of the campaign that resonated with many viewers is the “Better Food makes a Better Day” series of commercials. “I really wanted to have this sense of West Virginia. I didn’t want to preach about good food. Advertising is about connecting to people on some emotional level,” Weeks said.
There are characters, themes, and ideas that connect through the different segments, showing Weeks’ strong script writing ability. There are four different stories that tie the series together.
“These stories celebrated the person that cares enough about their family or the people around them to get them healthy food,” Weeks said.
Authenticity in the stories was an important criterion for Verglas Media. All of the actors and crewmembers needed to create the commercials were from West Virginia.
One aspect of the series that accented the attributes of the state was the song that accompanied the series.
“Originally, I thought ‘Country Roads’ would be this cool little nod to the state,” Weeks said; however, along with the exorbitant cost to obtain rights to the song, the state’s tourism board was also working to secure the rights to “Country Roads.”
During a day of filming at the Bridgeport Farmers Market, the musician Nat Frederick played at the market. Peterson struck up a conversation with Frederick. “We asked him if he ever sings ‘Country Roads.’ He said ‘I do, obviously a lot, but I have this other song that I wrote, and it is all about West Virginia,” Weeks said.
From there, Frederick’s song, “Home to Me,” became the soundtrack to the series of commercials. The final video recording of Frederick was recorded in the Verglas Media office on the top floor of the Bank Building in Davis.
Peterson’s background in audio and video helped pull the project together. “There were a ton of things that needed another person, so I just tried to fit into that role,” Peterson said. “Where she would say, ‘Hey, can you do such and such?’ Things that just took time and effort.”