LAKE OSWEGO, OR – The second of three legs of the Think Rice Road Trip wrapped up here this weekend after traveling another 1,000 miles, conducting 10 more consumer events, and distributing 800 rice cookers and samples of U.S.-grown rice to consumers in Washington and Oregon.
The effort is part of a new, highly-unusual consumer campaign that has USA Rice promotion teams traveling the countryside, interacting directly with consumers and handing out Aroma rice cookers, U.S.-grown rice, recipes, cooking tips, and more to crowds hungry for information, and just plain hungry.
“We’ve seen a spike in our social media followers on this trip and that has translated to people actually physically following us and our truck around,” said Deborah Willenborg, director of communications for USA Rice and one of the four drivers on this leg. “In Seattle, people saw us arrive in one of the neighborhoods more than an hour before a scheduled event and they started calling and texting friends and family – we were swarmed before we had time to fully set up; the Seattle Police and staff from Occidental Park actually had to help us with crowd control!”
The team also received positive receptions at the three farmers markets they visited: the Capitol Hill Farmers Market in Seattle, the Woodlawn Farmers Market in Portland, and the Oregon City Farmers Market in Oregon City. The latter two heavily promoted the truck and the event on social media channels.
“We were about 20 minutes behind schedule for Oregon City and a line had formed where we were going to be set up,” said Katie Maher director of strategic initiatives for USA Rice and one of the team drivers. “When the truck turned the corner and came into sight of the market, we actually heard a cheer go up!”
As on the previous leg, college students continued to be a receptive target audience and the Think Rice truck held an event on campus at the University of Washington.
“These kids may have initially been drawn to us because they heard there was something free, but they stayed and engaged with us, asking sophisticated questions about trade policy and agriculture and the environment,” explained Asiha Grigsby, manager of International Promotions who was loaned to the Domestic Promotion team for this trip and is actually an alumna of the University. “They are young consumers, probably out on their own for the first time, and forming brand loyalties that will last them a lifetime. That event was a really good one.”
The team also held an event outside a QFC Supermarket in Seattle where they were able to educate both consumers on their way into the store, as well as store employees who are now more knowledgeable third-party messengers for the U.S. rice industry.
The Think Rice Truck has made its way to northern California and the team will pick up in rice country on November 9 for the final leg, pushing through to San Diego, where it will be on display at the USA Rice Outlook Conference. You can continue to follow along using #RideWithRice on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
A few photos from the 2nd leg of the Think Rice Road Trip.