Pastoral personal ad is a big hit

With circulation scandals and lackluster ad sales, newspapers and magazines already have a pocketful of worries. Now comes a threat to the print medium’s classified ads: farmers who plant personal ads in their fields. Case in point is New York cattle-and-crops farmer Pieter DeHond, a 41-year-old divorced father of two. He planted a lovelorn message in his cow pasture using 50-foot (15-meter) letters made from corn stalks. The pastoral plea states: “S.W.F Got-2 [heart] Farm-n.” The response since the May planting of the cornstalk communiqué? More than 700 replies! (Most presumably got in touch after reading media reports like this one, not after flying over the farm.) DeHond has responded to only one reply so far: a California gal who had a pizza delivered to DeHond’s farmhouse. “A very attractive woman” is how DeHond described his new friend to his hometown paper, the Daily Messenger of Canandaigua, N.Y. The Messenger and other papers ought to be worried about the response rate for DeHond’s manure-enriched missive of almost 6 percent of Canandaigua’s population of 12,000. Your average direct marketer is happy with less than half that. Has DeHond stumbled upon the next great communications touch point?

—Posted by Steve McClellan

Photo: AP/Robert Mincer