Raising our Voice

Complementary tv advertising campaigns by POET and Growth Energy will give the nation a new vision of ethanol.

A farmer, out of place amidst the bustle of a New York City street, clears his throat and turns on a microphone.

“You think your fuel comes from oil fields, desert sands in far-away lands,” he proclaims to the crowd walking by.

“But is also comes from a different kind of field, from my family’s fields.

“Give me a little rain mixed with a little sun; I’ll give you plenty of food, and fuel to boot.

“And I’ll do the same thing tomorrow.

“I’m John Patrick: part-time farmer, full-time poet.”

This is a vision of the farmer as a common person taking common ingredients and making something both beautiful and powerful. It is the image that inspired POET’s name. It is an image with which many in the industry and in rural America are well familiar.

But nationally, it is a vision of ethanol most Americans now are seeing for the first time.

Ethanol has been on the national stage for years, but POET and Growth Energy, through a series of television ads, are now raising their voices in a new way to a new audience. The two organizations

have coordinated complementary national TV advertising campaigns. Starting April 12, people tuning into Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC, CNN and HLN (formerly CNN Headline News) will see a new vision of ethanol.


POET Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Breukelman says other players in the energy debate such as oil, natural gas, wind, coal and solar are getting their message to the public. American ethanol needs to be part of that debate.

A strong campaign can also undo some of the damage to ethanol’s image.

“Our opponents found creative ways to define us that defy logic and common sense,” Breukelman says. Growth Energy Communications Director Chris Thorne agrees. The ethanol industry devotes too much time speaking to people “whom are already on our side,” he says.

“With a national cable TV buy, we’re able to reach those households in the U.S. where folks either don’t have an opinion about ethanol and agriculture, or who could stand to hear our side of the story,” he says. “Plus, TV is effective. You can target your demographic with

cable TV like never before, and a thoughtfully produced, powerful ad campaign can get people talking.”

The groups chose the networks and timing of the ads based on research of viewer habits that demonstrate the best ways to reach the industry’s target audience.

For POET, the goal is twofold: Improve the image of ethanol and make POET a household name for ethanol.

“It’s an opportunity for POET to tell the rest of the country the great things we’re doing for energy security, jobs and the environment,” Breukelman says.

Both the POET and Growth Energy ads will run in four three-week flights starting April 12, June 7, July 12 and Aug. 1. The ads were designed by 3Advertising out of Albuquerque, N.M.


POET’s concept draws strongly from its name.

Each ad features a different person involved in making ethanol: a farmer, a scientist and an ethanol plant general manager. The series highlights the people behind the industry, Breukelman says.

“They’re taking this humble story to metro areas, telling their stories through free-verse poetry,” he says. “It’s real, wholesome people who know a little bit about common sense.”

Taking these characters out of their typical environments and putting them on a busy metro street provides a stark contrast. The idea of art as an element of agriculture, science and manufacturing highlights the significance of the work they do.

“We wanted to make something that stands out,” Breukelman says. “No one is dying to see your ad so you have to be creative and engaging.”

Putting yourself out in the public eye as the face of an industry can make you a target, but Breukelman says “opportunity outweighs the risk.”

“We are proud of who we are,” he says. “There’s nothing about us that we need to hide.”


Growth Energy’s ad campaign uses the power of a simple statement to highlight the differences between ethanol and oil.

Against an all-green background, an incomplete phrase fades into view.

“No wars have ever been fought over ______.”

The word “ethanol” fills the blank.

The next screen reads “America’s peace fuel,” followed by Growth Energy’s logo.

Other ads in the campaign highlight the jobs or environmental benefits of ethanol, calling it “America’s economic fuel” or “America’s clean fuel.”

“The ad campaign has a personality — straightforward, with some urgency, but also hopeful,” Thorne says. “The creative itself is a series of 15-second spots, revealing ethanol’s value by raising the straightforward comparison to other types of fuel.”

Thorne says these messages resonate with the American public right now.

“We know the public is concerned about the nation’s standing in the world and have questions about our economic strength,” he says. “We’re positioning ethanol as a domestic source of renewable fuel that creates U.S. jobs, keeping money here at home and strengthening our economy.”

Growth Energy’s experience in Washington, D.C. as well as key public opinion data helped craft the messages.


Although POET and Growth Energy are adding a new medium to how they communicate with the American public, they are staying consistent with what they communicate.

“The topics we’re focused on in the campaign are those same positive qualities anyone in the ethanol industry is already familiar with — ethanol is cleaner, strengthens our national and economic security, and creates U.S. jobs,” Thorne says. “That’s the truth, and that truth is our most effective weapon.”

Breukelman is excited about POET using its standing as the largest ethanol producer to promote the good name of ethanol.

“We have a great story to tell,” he says. “And we think this is a benefit for the entire industry,”

Both campaigns are available online at each organization’s Web site (www.poet.com, www.growthenergy.org).



Vital is a news & media resource published by POET, presenting a variety of stories with the thought leadership one expects from the largest, most forward-thinking ethanol producer.