December 7, 2013

Winslow High grad’s Super Bowl ad dreams still alive

Voting has ended, but finalist Lucie Amundsen doesn’t yet know whether her message encouraging egg buyers to “get locally laid” will win commercial competition.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A Winslow High School graduate who wants Super Bowl viewers to buy “locally laid” eggs is awaiting word about whether her message will air as a commercial during the big game on Feb. 2.

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POULTRY ATHLETES: Former Winslow resident Lucie Amundsen, co-owner of Locally Laid egg farm, says her pasture-raised chickens benefit from having access to exercise, sunshine, grass and bugs, leading to better tasting and more nutritious eggs.

Contributed photo

Lucie Amundsen’s pasture-raised egg business, Locally Laid, located in Wrenshall, Minn., is one of four businesses that made the finals of a competition for airtime during one of television’s biggest events.

Sunday marked the end of public voting on the website of the sponsoring company, Intuit, maker of the accounting software QuickBooks.

Amundsen and her husband, Jason Amundsen, don’t yet know whether their business has beaten the other three finalists — Barley Labs, a North Carolina company that sells dog biscuits made from a local brewery’s recycled barley; Dairy Poop, an Idaho company that sells processed cow manure as a fertilizer; and GoldieBlox, a California firm that sells princess-themed building kits to encourage engineering skills among girls.

The Amundsens’ company sells eggs from local, pasture-raised chickens that have access to grass, bugs and exercise. Since they founded the company earlier this year, they have called attention to studies showing eggs from pasture-raised chickens are tastier and more nutritious than eggs from chickens that live in confinement.

Amundsen, born Lucie Belanger, still has ties to Winslow, home of her parents, retired building contractors John and Denise Belanger.

Although the voting has ended, Amundsen said, Intuit might not notify the winning company until the week of the Super Bowl. The TV spot will be created with the help of RPA, a Santa Monica, Calif., ad agency that includes Honda among its clients.

When Locally Laid made the cut as a finalist from a contestant pool of more than 15,000 small businesses, a large entourage of Intuit executives and a camera crew surprised the Amundsens at their farm earlier this year to notify them of their final-four status.

She said she suspects the company will make an event out of announcing the winner, too.

“I kind of expect them to come in on some great snow treader machine or something,” she said. “They really love to surprise their winners.”

Amundsen said she and her husband relied on a grass-roots campaign to get out the vote for their company.

“Our town has gone completely nuts with support,” she said.

In their area, stickers encouraging supporters to vote daily on the contest website appeared on pizza boxes and in hotels. A billboard and signs in front yards also demonstrated local enthusiasm for the campaign.

“We’ve never worked harder on anything in our lives,” Amundsen said.

Even if the egg farm doesn’t win the top prize, she said, the publicity surrounding the contest has benefited the company, which sold its first egg in August.

“Just a few months ago, we were sweating it that we were going to sign a contract with anyone,” she said. “There is now a waiting list.”

Faced with a large demand, the Amundsens don’t plan to expand their flock significantly beyond the 2,500 chickens they now raise. Instead, they are contracting with other egg producers that live up to Locally Laid standards, which Amundsen said will allow them to grow the business without violating the principles of the local food movement.

“If someone licenses it in Texas, they would be growing their own economy there,” she said.

The company also sells a recipe and branding for its special blend of chicken feed, which is grown locally and contains no genetically modified organisms.

Amundsen said the contest has been an opportunity to promote, not just the company, but the ethics of the local food movement.

“We are a mission-based little business, and we have pushed forth this mission,” she said. “No matter what happens, thousands more people have heard the term pasture-raised, perhaps for the first time.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 mhhetling@centralmaine.com Twitter: @hh_matt
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