SUN VALLEY, IDAHO — Leveraging a potential run to a national championship, the Idaho Potato Commission has huddled up with the Boise State University Broncos in a football-themed promotion that is kicking off Labor Day.

Idaho potatoes leverage link with Boise State football

Tom Karst

Bob Meek, chief executive officer of Wada Farms, Idaho Falls, Idaho, visits with Luke Gowdy, transportation sales manager in Monterey, Calif., for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based CH Robinson Worldwide, in an afternoon transportation session  Sept. 1 at the Idaho Growers Shippers Association convention in Sun Valley.

Frank Muir, president of the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission, presented the commission’s marketing programs on Sept. 2 at the Idaho Grower Shipper Association convention. The commission has partnered with Boise State University (the Broncos are ranked in the top 5 in numerous polls) and the University of Idaho football programs.

The commission is sponsoring the schools’ game in the years they meet on the gridiron. The game will become known as the Spud Bowl, Muir said. In the years they don’t play, the commission plans to sponsor one televised game in both stadiums. The televised games will feature public relations media and the Idaho potato logo on the fields.

Muir said the commission planned to premiere a new television ad during the Labor Day game between Boise State and Virginia Tech. The television spot features consumers identifying Idaho as the source of the best potatoes in the U.S. The spot urges consumers to look for the “grown in Idaho” seal.

Muir said the football promotion has big possibilities.

“We are thrilled about this,” he said.

Boise State players were recently filmed working out with bags of potatoes running stadium steps.

That video will be sent to ESPN and other media outlets on the East Coast, he said.

With potatoes as part of the diet and workout regime, the clip reinforces potatoes as the “secret weapon” of the Broncos. Muir said.

“They just got to do their part; we are doing our part,” he said.

Muir said the link between Boise State and potatoes is already being used in sport stories.

“I think this will be a huge success this year,” he said.

In another major marketing announcement, Muir said the commission in February plans to launch the use of the American Heart Association checkmark on commission advertising and publicity. Shippers will also be able to use the checkmark for a discounted fee, he said.

Muir said nearly two-thirds of consumers report that the American Heart Association’s heart check influence their shopping choices.

“This is basically the American Heart Association saying potatoes from Idaho are good for your heart,” he said.

Commission spokeswoman Denise Austin will do a satellite media tour to announce the campaign in February, Muir said.