The Father, the Son, and the Holy Monsanto

Monsanto, a multibillion dollar corporation, sells genetically modified crops and pesticides to farmers across the globe. Monsanto has received incredible amounts of scrutiny for diminishing the biological diversity of the world’s crops. Fortune reports that Monsanto seed traits can be found in 80% of corn and more than 90% of soybeans grown in the United States. The Center for Research on Globalization has recently linked Monsanto’s crop failures and control efforts to farmer suicides in India. Monsanto can not risk an uprising from the proletariat. The company needs a fresh and effective marketing campaign, targeting hard working farmers.

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Figure 1: A utopian scene from Monsanto’s St. Louis campaign in 2014

Each ad aims for an earthy color palette, with abundances of green, brown, and yellow. This palette draws   associations with Monsanto’s agricultural products. Figure 1 depicts an almost utopian scene a beautiful white family exploring some sort of suburban paradise, a practical Garden of Eden parked behind the Bio-Dome. The huge and ominous “We Dream Here” sits atop the page in a smooth sans-serif typeface. Every piece of text is written in sans-serif typeface, except for the company logo. By using the more professional and grounded serif typeface for “Monsanto,” the company cements itself as the authoritative guardian of a smooth and fertile paradise. Monsanto portrays itself as the God and creator of this Garden of Eden. 

Figure 2 targets farmers specifically. The man on the cover wears working clothes, and stands in an expansive field of wheat. His expression appears neutral, but dignified, a consequence of his hard but fulfilling life.

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Figure 2: This ad depicts a dignified Monsanto customer tending to his field

A block of text thanks America’s farmers for reducing CO2 emissions by 11 million tons in the past year. This message implicitly suggests that farmers have completed this feat via the purchase of Monsanto’s products. The ad aims to disguise the company’s pandering to customers, as a gesture of thanks for supposedly selfless actions. Monsanto even hides their logo at the top of the page. Though easily spotted in the vast quantities of white space, the small logo still feels unimposing and modest. Monsanto still maintains their heir of power with the endless ocean of wheat behind the worker. The expanse of crops, without any discernible landmarks, immerses the viewer in a world of food, supply, and safety.

Figure 3 uniquely plays off of the general public’s fear. Monsanto highlights a portion of farmland, large enough to feed 155 people. A claim below states that the field must feed 310 individuals by the year 2030. Though

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Figure 3: In this ad, Monsanto warns the public of a coming food crisis

Monsanto offers no information on what the consequences of failing these deadlines entail, and the public can assume that nothing good will come from half the population starving in 14 years time. In this ad, Monsanto paints itself as the literal savior of mankind. A simple, effective, and terrifying message is presented clearly, with the small Monsanto logo in the corner serving as the only possible solution.

 

Monsanto markets itself as a godlike entity— as the protector of paradise and the savior of mankind. All three of these Monsanto ads (along with the majority of others), were more concerned with marketing Monsanto’s image as a company, rather than with selling any particular product. In Figure 1, Monsanto targets a seemingly removed family with no interest in purchasing pesticides or GMOs. Considering that Monsanto already controls a staggering portion of the seed and pesticide market, a focus on maintaining that share rather than expanding comes as no surprise. 

 

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