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Behind the Scenes of EthaKnow

"The ultimate goal of the campaign is to dispel the misconceptions of ethanol & educate the consumer. The outcome of this education is to ensure that consumers willingly make ethanol their choice at the pump as well as to fight myths & build awareness of ethanol. The 2023 campaign is well-positioned to speak to the issues consumers care about – while grabbing attention, disarming detractors with wit and humor, while directly informing everyone with ethanol truths.”

– Heather Covrig, VP Client Service, Epicosity

If you’ve been paying attention to the new commercials that are airing for South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC), you may have noticed that they don’t look like they used to. Gone are the gorgeous scenes of corn fields, happy farm families, waving flags, and apple pie. Instead, welcome to the throw-back days of in-your-face infomercials hosted by newcomer Cory Maize with an added twist of absurdity. You may be asking yourself, ‘What is going on with SDCUC?’.

After research conducted by award-winning Sioux Falls agency Epicosity as to what was on the minds of consumers today regarding corn, it came through loud and clear that their largest misunderstanding was regarding ethanol; the facts and benefits of using it in their cars.

Epicosity Insights Director Katie Hagen shares, “Epicosity takes pride in the creativity of our team – but we’re not in the business of guessing. Instead, we use research to fully inform strategy prior to creative development. This helps ensure that every SDCUC message is rooted in a solid understanding of consumer perceptions. When asked if they would recommend ethanol to friends and family, many said no. Their reasons varied – but primarily centered upon objections that we haven’t heard for a while. Namely, that ethanol was not recommended for their vehicles and/or hurt their fuel economy. They’re also worried that too much land is used to grow corn for fuel and not food.”

So, while the press for sustainable, clean, homegrown energy through renewable biofuels will continue to be a hot topic for most Americans, the research clearly illustrates the need for education in regard to ethanol beyond being a cheap alternative to fossil fuels. For Epicosity, the ability to break through the clutter and get to the point clearly and concisely was to leverage on absurdity with a humorous approach.

According to Creative Director Scott Wiechmann, “If it’s appropriate for the brand, comedy can be a powerful weapon in the battle for awareness and mindshare. It entertains, informs and is often more memorable than other strategies. The misconceptions about ethanol and the blind faith with which consumers tend to believe them is borderline absurd. Comedy is the perfect tool to lean into and leverage that absurdity while embracing it with parody. Given the resources we have, comedy will be much more efficient and effective than trying to dispel these misconceptions head-on with a serious tone.”

The EthaKNOW campaign is airing on local television, streaming services, radio, and social media platforms.