It's never been easy to make money down on the farm. For that matter, it's never been easy to make money up on the farm either.
But a Quebecois (translation: an 'ois' from Quebec) farmer has found a way to bring a little more cash through the barn doors: He's selling advertising space on his eggs.
This is not as simple as you might think. It's not like you can just bundle up the eggs after collection and send them to the ad agency for printing. That's because printing companies have a special term for eggs that have been through the printing press, and it is: yuck.
No, at the moment he's got a special machine that gently puts stickers on the eggs as they roll past, but even so, the breakage percentage is large. Given the amount of money he's invested in this idea, tensions are high as everyone puts in overtime to make it work. “It's like walking on egg shells in here,” said one employee, who wished to remain anonymous. Said another, “Yeah, this is
important. The boss doesn't want to end up with egg on his face over this.”
Other farmers don't know whether to applaud the idea, or be insanely jealous. Fruit growers, who in some parts of North America are also selling space on their produce to advertisers, are talking co-branding. This may mean that your eggs will have pictures of orange juice on them, while your morning grapefruit will be covered with scratch-and-sniff stickers that smell of omelettes.
Beef producers are desperately trying to come up with a similar advertising scheme. Among the wild ideas floated so far are: deeply tattooing cattle so all their steaks have corporate logos in them, and making cows wear sandwich boards while they graze in the field. The response from the Cow Union Local 223 to these proposals has been: Moo.( Translation: Try it and we will kick you in a place that will make you squeak for a week.)
Meanwhile civil liberties groups are crying fowl over this sort of unsolicited commercial message. “This type of advert is more insidious than anyone realizes,” said a spokesman for the group, We Do Not Like Our Eggs With Spam. “When are you most weak and vulnerable? First thing in the morning, pre-coffee. And what do you see when you open your fridge door? Not one, but twelve commercials. Who knows what sort of power this will have over the consumer?”
I suppose the civil libertarians have a point. I mean, what if, for example, politicians started putting “Vote For Me” ads on eggs, and were able to reach people when they were very, very impressionable? Or if I were to take out an ad saying, “Send all your money to the Chandra Clarke Fund” …. hey… wait a minute…
The egg farmer who's started all of this has also let himself in for more trouble than he realizes. Clever chickens who object to forced labor could sneak into the labeling machine and put anti-egg propaganda stickers, such as, “Try not to think of where this egg came from” and “If you eat eggs, chicks won't like you.”
Barn mice, who have long been underemployed and forced to take jobs as cat food and owl sporting targets, will also be campaigning via eggs. “I's not right, 'im giving the labelling job to a machine,” said one mouse who goes by the name Cheeser. “Why, with some tiny bristle brushes and a pot of billboard paste, me and the lads could label them eggs quick like, and not break a single one. He were wrong not to ask us!” Cheeser said that in a campaign called Paws for Thought, consumers would be advised as to the environmental impact of mechanical egg labelers. They would also be given statistics on mouse poverty and mortality rates. “Aye, and if that doesn't work, we'll start chewing through the electrical cords. Yes, my brothers are willing to pay the ultimate price. Sollllidarrrrity foreeeeever….”
So, dear readers, like it or not, these contentious egg ads are coming to a refrigerator near you. What's that you say? You want no part of this and want to know how to get rid of them?
Well, you could always try to eggsorcise your spam omelette.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.