Elison Blancaflor stood on a pier across the bay from the Sydney Opera House, marveling at the white peaks of an iconic roofline against the cloudless afternoon sky.
Blancaflor, Ph.D., a Noble Research Institute principal investigator, visited Australia in October for a conference that provided him a few sightseeing opportunities. As he took in the grandeur of the moment, Blancaflor's mind jogged back to another reason he had wandered down to the water's edge. He turned, fished around in his bag for a moment and retrieved his blue cow. He placed the blue cow on a dock, careful to keep the opera house in the background, and snapped a photo.
He smiled. It was official: the blue cow had come to Australia.
"When I heard about the blue cow idea, I thought it was cute and fun," Blancaflor said. "Then you start seeing photos of the blue cow in all these different places, and you realize the Noble Research Institute truly reaches around the world."
The blue cow campaign was launched as part of the 70th anniversary celebration. The social media campaign, which includes about 1,000 blue cow figurines (the cow symbolizes agriculture, and the blue color is part of the Noble Research Institute brand), is designed to demonstrate the reach of the Noble Research Institute, as well as the lives touched through the organization's activities.
Each month during the 70th anniversary year, more than 400 blue cows will be mailed to friends of the Noble Research Institute, who will post photos of their blue cow and tell their personal story of how the Noble Research Institute has impacted them.
Additionally, each of the Noble Research Institute's 340 employees received a blue cow to take with them as they travel. To date, employees have already carried the blue cow to conferences, speaking engagements and vacations at locales including Niagara Falls, Disney World, Jamaica and beyond.
Beyond the mail-out and the employees, the Noble Research Institute is opening up the blue cow campaign so that anybody can participate. The first 300 people who like or follow one of the organization's social media networks will receive a blue cow.
Participants must find a network they have not already followed, like or follow that network, then post a message with @noblefoundation and the hashtag #bluecow and the phrase, "I want a blue cow!"
"The blue cow is a fun way to celebrate the Noble Research Institute and the people we interact with around the country and world," said Adam Calaway, director of communications. "By the end of the year, we're going to be truly astonished at the scope and distance traveled by the blue cow herd."