As I listened to the State of the Union speech last night, one word stood out to me. It was foreign to me. One word did not flow easily through my ears into my brain. That word was switchgrass. Most, if not all, of the other 5,000 or so words were familiar-- terrorism, ethanol, healthcare savings accounts, etc.
In the president's remarks on the energy shortage and the need for alternative fuel research he mentioned that the nation needs to develop or refine new fuels to power our automobiles. He mentioned ethanol, as an example, citing that it could be produced not only from corn, but also from wood chips and switchgrass.
My first question was: "What the heck is switchgrass?" It is a prarie tallgrass that is native to North America. Switchgrass is very hardy and it grows rapidly. It shows promising characteristics as a feedstock for ethanol and also for home heating in pellet stoves. To learn more about it you can go to Wikipedia. I also found via Google a three-page white paper from the Iowa State University extension service on guidelines for growing switchgrass as a biomass fuel. Iowa, by the way, seems to be leading the way, with activity also in Kansas. There's also a pretty comprehensive article on the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center's Web site.
My next question was: "Who the heck got this into the State of the Union?" That answer remains elusive. But we can be relatively sure that some lobbyist somewhere leaped into the air, fist-pumped and did an end zone celebration dance, immediately after the president said the word switchgrass.
So what does this have to do with marketing? Not much, unless you're in the business of marketing (or lobbying for) switchgrass and its producers. (Maple Creative is not, for the record.) Just thought you'd like to know.
Kudos to the lobbyists and marketers for switchgrass for introducing it to most of the nation by way of a very high-profile messenger, nicknamed "W."