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Agrimarketing : June 2009
32 Best of NAMA/Syngenta:32 Feature Story 6/12/09 12:48 PM Page 32 2009 NAMA’S BEST OF SHOW—PUBLIC RELATIONS SOARINGHIGHABOVETHESOUTH A by Julie Richards, Gibbs&Soell Public Relations t the end of 2007, the bleak statistics of the projected 2008 cottonmarket proved itwas going to be a tough year to promote a cotton product in its third season. U.S. cotton acreswere at their lowest since 1989 and U.S. cotton producers were predicted to have a 9.2%reduction in cotton acres. These disheartening statistics called attention to the need to do something unexpected and out of the box to capture the interest of growers across the South, keepmorale high and promote a cotton product in a marketwhere passion and gustowas waning. The idea for anAvicta Complete Cotton blimpwas born out of these adverse circumstances, but upon planning, it seemed as though just the blimp floating across the Cotton Beltwas not going to achieve the desired communication objections. These objectives included: • KeepAvicta Complete Cotton topof-mind during its third season. • Involve the entire community of cotton-growing towns to generate talk and interest around the brand. • Pump excitement into the cotton marketplace. • Counter competitive pressure. To thoroughly accomplish these objectives, the Syngenta Seed Care communications teamtransformed the blimp into a comprehensivemarketing campaignwith events, a charity partnership and community relations activities that brought good will, joy and positive customer interactions throughout 11 states. BRINGING IT TO LIFE The overall theme chosen for the blimp campaignwas one of celebration and engagement—“The Biggest Thing toHappen to Cotton.” Taking cues fromworld fairs and big top circus events of the early 1900s, theAvicta Complete Cotton blimp was larger than life and surrounded by fanfare and hoopla. The visual look of the blimp drewinspiration 32 Agri Marketing s June 2009 Max Betts,Greenfield, TN, rode the blimp in Blytheville, AR,with hismother and grandfather.Diagnosed at a young age with cystic fibrosis,Max received his ride through Believe In Tomorrowand their HandsOn Adventures Program. (Inset) TheHerndon family smiles and laughs in anticipation of their daughter’s ride in the Avicta Complete Cotton blimp inWilson,NC. The blimp did plenty to generate product awareness in the towns across the South. In addition, Syngentawanted to bring this floating billboard to the ground, to allow the public to become a part of the campaign, not just observers. This was achieved through collaboration with a children’s foundation, local events and various community relations activities. At the onset of the campaign, Syngenta formed an extraordinary part- enhances the healing process,” reports BrianMorrison, founder of Believe In Tomorrow. “Once you plant that seed of hope in a child, it can have amagical effect, empowering himwith a belief in tomorrow. The childwill turn fromfocusing on yesterday’s treatment to looking toward the future. The rides in theAvicta Complete Cotton blimp have done just that and played a meaningful role in the treatment of these children.” In addition to using the blimp to fromthe bold, colorful style ofworld fair and circus posters. The blimp’s journey began at theMid-South Farm&Gin Show, Memphis, TN, in late February 2008. Tradeshowattendeeswere invited to enter towin a blimp ride in the Syngenta booth and keymediawere invited to the airport to ride in the blimp and interviewpassengers. FromMemphis, the blimp set forth on a path thatwouldwind itsway through 11 cotton-producing states over threemonths, ultimately ending its voyage inWilson,NC. nershipwith Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation and its “HandsOnAdventures” program. Syngenta helped fulfill the program’s mission to offer critically ill children a chance to believe in and focus on the future, rather than the stressful routine of hospital visits and treatments, by providing blimp rides to children at nine airports near hospitals throughout the tour. “The opportunity for Believe In Tomorrowchildren to fly in theAvicta Complete Cotton blimp provided themwith an experience that really
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