In 2022 the agriculture industry was dealing with the lasting effects of a global pandemic, environmental pressures, and a shifting global political situation. Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program (COYF) took on the task of instilling refreshed confidence in young farmers by recognizing the incredible work they are doing despite it all.

Here’s how we helped COYF to flip the narrative and show farmers the value of their work, while also encouraging industry stakeholders to nominate the Outstanding Young Farmers they know.


About COYF

COYF recognizes young farmers in Canada who demonstrate excellence in their profession. Farm operators between ages 18 and 39, who derive a minimum two-thirds of their income from their farming, are eligible for nomination.

The program holds seven regional recognition events annually, where nominated farmers are selected to represent their region at the annual National Recognition Event. There, a panel of judges evaluates the honorees based on specific criteria and chooses two of the seven as Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers.


To nominate a farmer, the nominator must ensure the necessary criteria are met and fill out a form on the Program’s regional website. Our task was to attract more attention to COYF’s mission and encourage nominations from Ag community leaders like financial institutions, crop input companies, and ag advisors.

  • Audience insight: Almost 70% of COYF nominations come from Ag community leaders and institutions who benefit from the visibility and recognition nominated farmers receive.

We developed a strategy that would achieve three goals:

  • Determine the right direction for flipping the narrative
  • Create eye-catching visuals that resonated with farmers and motivated nominators
  • Communicate the message through the right channels.


“We felt that farmers don’t think they’re special, but the people around them see their uniqueness,” Lia Crabbe, Senior Director of Client Partnerships at WS.

Guided by the insight from COYF and our connections with the farming community, we facilitated several brainstorming sessions. Initial discussions focused on understanding a young farmer’s perspective, struggles, and unique outlooks. This helped us develop a clear vision of the existing narrative and how to turn it around.

  • The WS way: As an outcome-based marketing group, we start campaign development by visualizing the final result and its effect on the audience, in detail. The strategic vision is further reinforced with a holistic approach that leverages the skills and expertise of the entire team.

Our goal was to show farmers as the heroes they are and shift their self-doubt into pride. We created eye-catching visuals that emphasized the concept of flipping the narrative and spoke to the growers, their communities, and the general public.


The creative process behind the 2022 COYF campaign was directed toward attracting attention and raising recognition. This was deployed through four mediums: print, digital, social media, and homepage website banner. Additionally, COYF applied the concepts we developed via cards handed out at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show and a sticker wall at the 2022 National Recognition Event.



The copy has a negative sentiment until the reader literally flips the ad upside-down. Supported by the cape added to the shadow, the new narrative pointed out the truly extraordinary nature of young Canadian farmers.


Social Media

The emphasis on turning the same phrase around helped the audience see the farmers and the work they do from a new perspective.


Digital Ads

We combined eye-catching copy with the concept of flipping the narrative to drive visitors to the COYF website.


Website Banner

Once on the site, visitors were greeted by a banner that brought the whole campaign together and invited them to explore the nomination process.



The 2022 COYF campaign was ultimately successful in addressing the lack of attention young Canadian farmers get. We showed the growers in a new light and helped the COYF program boost their visibility and inspire nominations.

Here are some of the performance metrics gathered throughout the campaign:

  • Print ads reach: 228,391
  • Digital ads impressions: 612,956
  • Social media (Twitter): 239,189 impressions with 7,007 engagements 
  • Website visits: 11,439

We also distributed four e-blasts through a paid partnership with Glacier Farm Media, with an average CTR of 0.33%.

“WS provided Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers Program with a new perspective in the 2022-23 ad campaign that was well received by members and sponsors,” said Carla Kaeding, Program Manager at COYF. “ It is great to see a positive image of farming promoting a group of innovative, forward-thinking farmers from across Canada. WS went above and beyond when they came up with this.”

Standing out for the outstanding

WS knows farmers and wholeheartedly believes in what they do. By working with COYF, we discovered a new creative approach to celebrating the industry. We also got to visit the farms and meet the amazing nominees for the 2022 Outstanding Young Farmers Awards.

“The WS team felt a significant shift in societal sentiment towards farmers because of the pandemic: more people wanted to support local businesses, including growers. At the same time, COYF had experienced low nominations for the Program when asking growers to self-nominate. We shifted our strategy after learning Carla’s insight that most nominations come from the agricultural community. Asking them to nominate growers offered a new way to ‘support local’ and give young Canadian farmers the recognition they deserve,” – said Lia.