Venice Agency Putting the L.A. in L.A. County Fair

Southern California isn’t the first place you’d think to look for county fairgoers. The region tends to conjure images of black-clad studio execs, spaced-out surfers and blondes on parade—not grazing livestock or bales of hay.

Yet the Los Angeles County Fair, running Sept. 14 to Oct. 1 in Pomona, Calif., 29 miles from downtown L.A., is actually the largest county fair in North America. Ideaology, the creative agency for the fair, realizes the irony—and plays it up in a campaign breaking this week.

TV, radio and outdoor boards in Southern California hype the event as a great way for parents to show their kids there’s more to life than Hollywood. The theme is, “If there’s any place that really needs a county fair, it’s L.A.”

“The mission is to bring new visitors,” said Cary Sacks, president of the Venice, Calif., agency, who created the campaign with Ideaology partner Dino Santilli. The idea is to position the festival as “the antidote to our crazy, e-mailed, cellphoned-out existence,” Sacks added. “The point we are really trying to make is, where else can you take your kids to milk a cow or see a pig, stuff that isn’t hip or cool but has a lot of value because of its normalcy?”

The 30-second TV spots—three in English and one in Spanish—feature Southern Califor nians trying to describe county fair food in typically pretentious Tinseltown terms. In one, a woman describes what she’s eating as “handheld crème brûlée,” as the camera pulls back to show it’s just cotton candy.

Outdoor ads use humorous lines with pictures of a cow (“Teach your kids where lattes come from”), a goat (“Teach your kids where goat cheese pizza comes from”) and a sheep (“Teach your kids where Gucci sweaters come from.”)

Another cow board suggests, “Grab life by the udders.”

Sacks, a veteran L.A. ad man, had been consulting since folding his shop, Sacks/Fuller, in 1996, when he met Santilli to work on a project.

The two formed Ideaology in April and now claim clients such as Freeway Insurance, Sit N’ Sleep mattress stores, broadband marketer Internet Connect and the South Bay and South Coast Toyota dealers.