Photo by Union Square Greenmarket
As farmers markets across the country have gotten equipped to accept SNAP, they’ve worked hard to get the word out. Some outreach efforts are as simple as handwritten A-frames or plain postcards that exclaim Acceptamos EBT!
But the folks at the New York City Greenmarket took things to a whole new level this year, with a groundbreaking ad campaign by graffiti artists that ran everywhere from urban murals to city subways. It’s a clever concept: OH SNAP!
The idea was born last year when USDA announced their new Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG). Many market operators applied to pay for staffing, but Greenmarket—which it a program of GrowNYC and has scaled its operation to hit a million dollars in annual SNAP sales—had had another idea:
“We thought, ‘what a great opportunity,’” recalls Assistant Director Cheryl Huber. “The barrier for us is letting every New Yorker know they can use SNAP at our markets. We wanted to get that message out far and wide. So we applied for funding for an education and outreach campaign.”
With the money in place to pay for ad placement citywide, all they needed was some killer creative. Enter Edelman. The leading global communications firm jumped in with both feet to create a compelling campaign—for free.
“They put such an amazing team on this project,” raves Huber. First step was a focus group of interviews with New Yorkers who rely on SNAP – including those who do and don’t already shop at the Greenmarket. As this input informed the campaign, Edelman presented GrowNYC with several ideas including an outlier option—working with street artists around the Oh SNAP message.
“We loved it!” recalls Huber. “The concept is useful and creative and different. Edelman also presented a beautiful, farm to table option, but this felt edgier and eye-catching. People would notice it more. Plus the whole concept of a graffiti artists just goes with NYC. It’s urban and energetic. And it was so much fun to work on.”
The lead artist, Queen Andrea, painted the local cornucopia in her authentic street style. One focus group member said the Oh SNAP campaign would make her to feel proud to shop at farmers markets, calling the message “empowering” – which Huber says was precisely the emotion the team wanted the ads to elicit.
In addition to a full month of ads on city subways and busses, GrowNYC also used the funds (and additional investment from City Council) to buy ads in the Daily News, AM New York, Metro New York, a Chinese version in the Epoch Times, and even purchased a wrap-around on El Diario, the most widely read Spanish language paper in the city.
It all bore fruit. Greemarket SNAP sales were up in July and August, as mangers reported hordes of new customers drawn by the campaign. Nor could people resist taking pictures. “The day [artist] Andrea was painting the van, someone would stop every three minutes to snap a selfie.”
“You’re talking to everyone,” Huber concludes. “Every New Yorker is looking for fresh healthy food.” And now millions more know that they can get it at the Greenmarket.