WVSU Marketing Campaign Published in National Journal

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Jan. 9, 2015
WVSU Marketing Campaign Published in National Journal
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The marketing campaign for the West Virginia Urban Agriculture Conference continues to receive national attention. Led by official “spokes bird” Chicken Stu, the character-based campaign, created by West Virginia State University (WVSU) communications staff, was published in the December edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Extension. The conference has also been presented to groups throughout the state and nation, including in Alabama, California and Oregon.

“Seeing this creative marketing campaign receive so much attention is a testament to the kind of work being done here at State,” said Dr. Ami Smith, associate dean and associate director of WVSU Extension Service, noting the Journal of Extension’s modest 27 percent acceptance rate. The article is the first time WVSU has been published in the Journal.

“The marketing campaign elevated local, state and national awareness of West Virginia State University’s extension efforts in a fun and light-hearted way—thanks to Chicken Stu and the talented staff who created him,” said Kimberly Osborne, Vice President for University Relations and Operations. “The team behind this effective campaign showcased their creativity and, more important, executed a campaign that resulted in an increased awareness and interest in urban agriculture in the region.”

Using the tagline “Farming: It’s so citified,” Chicken Stu, depicted wearing a stylish black necktie, became the conference’s logo and marketing centerpiece. Additional imagery was created to promote conference tracks, including a beekeeper in a business suit, a businesswoman walking a goat, and a traffic signal with red, yellow and green bell peppers in place of the lights.

Relying on social media to create buzz, Stu began tweeting, or “clucking,” his fictional journey from the farm to the capital city, where he was met with open arms. A stuffed version of Stu visited various businesses, locations and partnering agencies throughout Charleston, including the Governor’s Mansion, where he met Governor and First Lady Tomblin.

“The conference was a first for the region, so we wanted something creative to ensure it got attention. Our goal was to blend urban and rural imagery in a memorable, humorous way,” said Matt Browning, director of communications for WVSU Extension Service. “Stu began feeling strangely real as we took him places and interacted with people—he was soon getting into places I can’t get into.”

The marketing concept resonated with the audience. Attendance at the conference surpassed goals and led to a successful event.

The West Virginia Urban Agriculture Conference was a joint venture launched last year by WVSU Extension Service, West Virginia University Extension Service, Capitol Conservation District and partnering agencies. The conference was created to expose the state’s small farmers and garden enthusiasts to the various possibilities in urban agriculture initiatives like community gardening, urban forestry, beekeeping and others. Plans are underway for the second annual conference, which will take place this fall.

The Journal of Extension article about the campaign is available online at joe.org. Follow Chicken Stu on Twitter @StuUrbanAgWV.

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook and Twitter @WVStateU.
West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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