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April Baumgarten, Forum Communications, Published July 07 2012

Riding oil's coattails, ND businsses not linked to boom use Bakken as branding

DICKINSON, N.D. – The Bakken name isn’t just exclusive to the oil field.

Several companies not involved in drilling oil have capitalized on the name of the formation driving the explosive growth of the oil industry in North Dakota.

“It’s a marketing opportunity,” said Greg Kemple, owner of Casselton-based Maple River Winery. “You have to stop and think when was the last time there was something that had a global impact from North Dakota? It’s a no-brainer for people to have things like that.”

Bumper stickers hailing sayings such as “Rockin’ the Bakken” or “If it weren’t for the Bakken, we’d be walkin’!” will have to make way for products and advertisements.

Maple River’s Chateau de Bakken series is on the racks, at least for a while, Kemple said. The choke-cherry, honey apple and apple strawberry flavors have been a hit.

“It’s a reference. It’s just like Teddy Roosevelt was in North Dakota history,” he said.

The wine is a popular gift, he added. Customers can send bottles with cards that say, “You’re not getting oil this year, but enjoy the wine.”

Bismarck-based Memory Fireworks also tapped into the name last year with its flaring explosives “Rockin’ the Bakken” and “Bakken Gold.”

“It’s kind of nice with our clients or for customers that come in,” Memory co-owner Braun Knutson said. “With ones from our series they can come back and they can remember, ‘Oh, yeah. We got the Peace Garden,’ or ‘Oh, we always get Rockin’ the Bakken.’”

The company aims to celebrate North Dakota heritage, and the oil boom has become part of its history, he said.

Bismarck State College is trying to attract students with the slogan “Be as in-demand as oil,” which is on a billboard on Interstate 94 east of Dickinson.

“They are hard to capture as far as getting to them,” BSC PR and Communications Manager Marnie Piehl said. “We know they’re on the road.”

The college focuses on taking its students beyond education, Piehl said, but the two-year institution wanted a fun and creative way to bring in students.

While BSC isn’t directly involved in the industry, it pumps out human resources for the Oil Patch with its energy program.

“Part of what we do is help people have careers in the energy industry,” she said. “We can help people have a career as long as they know what we’ve got.

It’s hard to tell if the billboard is working since it was put up in June, she said, but the name game is gaining momentum.

“For us, it’s kind of a natural, but I think everybody sees that’s where all the action is,” she said. “I think people are in it because it is hot and exciting.”