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ASF awareness ad campaign wins prestigious award

An ad campaign by Sage Communications warning about African swine fever has won the Platinum Hermes Creative Award.

pigs-dont-fly
This billboard, seen at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, is part of an ad campaign by McLean, Virginia-based Sage Communications, which has won the Platinum Hermes Creative Award – the highest honor from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. (Ann Reus)

‘Pigs don’t fly’ billboards remind travelers at airports that pork products can bring African swine fever into the US

When I was walking through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in January on my way to Atlanta for the International Production & Processing Expo, a billboard caught my eye.

It was from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it showed a cartoon pig being turned away at the security checkpoint by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer with the slogan, “Pigs don’t fly. Let’s keep it that way.” The sign also explained that foods containing pork can carry disease into the U.S. and it said “Stop African Swine Fever” in smaller print at the bottom, with a QR code to scan for more information.

That ad was designed for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) as part of an ad campaign by McLean, Virginia-based Sage Communications, which has won the Platinum Hermes Creative Award – the highest honor from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

“Reaching domestic and international travelers, Sage developed compelling creative to educate the public of ASF and to reduce the risk of spreading ASF to the United States. Sage ideated a catchy campaign tagline, ‘Pigs don’t fly,’ and illustrated the journey of a pig cartoon character traveling through an airport. The campaign creative can be found in major airports and surrounding areas through 2023,” reads the entry on the Hermes Creative Awards website. “Sage also translated social media and digital display ads into four languages/dialects: Spanish, French, Haitian French and Mandarin, to eliminate a language barrier in understanding the potential impacts of ASF.

“As of February 2023, the campaign has generated over 45.5 million impressions, 200,000 clicks, and 4.2 million video views, driving a cumulative 109,775 page views to the campaign’s landing page.”

It’s great to see these efforts to spread more awareness about African swine fever, or ASF, and especially important that this ad campaign has been translated into these four other languages or dialects. While ASF is not present in the U.S., the nearest threat is on the island of Hispaniola, which is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Most people in these countries speak Spanish, French or Haitian French, and it is estimated that there are more than 1 billion native Mandarin speakers worldwide, so this campaign has the potential to reach a huge and meaningful segment of global travelers.

In addition to the Platinum Award, Sage Communications received a Gold Hermes Creative Award for its work on the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Information’s (NASS) campaign for 2022-23 Census of Agriculture awareness.

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