VIDALIA, Ga. — For the second year, the Vidalia onion industry is tying its promotions to country music to try to encourage more shoppers to place the sweet onion in their shopping carts.

This year’s program adds a coupon element and plans to engage more consumers through social media.

In its “Sweet Vidalia Onions and Country Music” campaign, the industry is partnering with Universal Music Group Nashville to feature top country stars in advertising and point-of-sale material to help retailers promote the leading sweet onion.

The campaign plans to use the coupons, music, social media and radio commercials to encourage consumers to purchase Vidalia onions.

Starting in early April, the committee plans to relaunch the retail and consumer promotion that will again feature photographs of country artists on the industry’s packaging and promotions.

Those materials include price cards, shelf cards that provide information on the commodity, box/display toppers, bins, half bins, and bin and box sleeves fitting over the bins.

New this year, the committee plans to spread its message in produce aisles through half-bins with false bottoms.

The half-bins don’t require large store space, but attract shopper attention, allow for display of onion bags or loose bulk onions and help produce mangers turn the product faster, keeping it fresher, said Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

In the couponing effort, consumers visiting and “liking” the committee’s Facebook page,, will immediately receive a printable coupon. After they click on the coupon, visitors will be directed to a microsite where they can download a free song from the Universal Music catalog.

Through social media, the committee plans to encourage site visitors to expect season updates as well the chance to participate in trivia contests awarding winners autographed country music CDs.

At the end of the promotion, social media participants will be entered to win a grand-prize trip to Nashville to visit the set of the production of a country music video.

“We have put a lot of thought into how to make our social media engaging and interactive and how to add those benefits to the retailer,” Brannen said.

“This will benefit the retailers by keeping those consumers around longer. This will help teach them the unique qualities of the Vidalia onion so when they visit the store and if they don’t have a coupon, they’ll understand the benefits of purchasing Vidalias.”

The coupons allow consumers to purchase bagged or bulk onions. Coupons will allow a discount of 10 cents a pound up to 10 pounds or 50 cents off a 5-pound or larger bag, she said.

The campaign returns with country veteran Vince Gill and adds Josh Turner, Lee Ann Womack and Easton Corbin.

The campaign banks on a shared heritage with sweet onions. However, the Vidalia Onion Committee finds the approach broad-based and national, Brannen said.

“As we have been clear the past two to three years, we have really strived to touch younger and different audiences in our marketing,” she said.

“These artists seem to have a connection with those demographics ... we are trying to reach.”

Starting May 1, during the height of Vidalia shipments, the committee plans to spread the word to shoppers via national radio advertisements. The spots are scheduled to air during popular syndicated country music countdown shows and include a special tribute to soldiers during a May 26 Memorial Day weekend broadcast.

The commercials, running through the end of June, remind consumers that retailers sell Vidalias longer than just through May.

“For those areas that don’t always stock Vidalias past the top of the season, we would like to ask them to do so because we receive a lot of feedback from our consumers looking for our onions in July and August,” Brannen said.

“We are broadcasting the radio promotions later than we normally do in hopes that they will buy those onions from retailers that choose to stock them in May.”