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Agrimarketing : November December 2009
36 Agri Marketing November/December 2009 2009 PRODUCT OF THE YEAR YSeries soybeans from Pioneer Hi-Bred represent a step-change in soybean performance, delivering unprece- dented productivity gains to North American growers. The communications challenge for Pioneer Hi-Bred, based in Johnston, IA, and its agency, McCormick Company, Kansas City, MO, was to crisply and clearly position Y Series as not just an incremental change, but a significant upgrade in performance over any soybean seed ever planted, says Evan Davies, McCormick Company Executive Vice President. REDEFINING SOYBEANS "To showcase the uniqueness of the Y Series, we had to establish a new value proposition for soybean per- formance," says Davies. Early in the process, McCormick and Pioneer agreed that the largest product launch in the company's history needed an aggressive, game- changing communications program. The result was taking a succinct performance message, then bringing it to life across a broad array of tactics. This provided a brand experience for Pioneer customers and prospects that drew them into the excitement of the Y Series. "To achieve our goal of commu- nicating that Y Series soybeans are a superior product, we had to tell growers: This is going to change everything," says Jeff Modean, McCormick's Creative Director. "It only made sense then that all of our executions had to break the mold of traditional agricultural advertising." The solution was to use the prod- uct name "Y" as the hero element of the campaign. "The visual idea was to keep a clean, nontraditional look for the ads," says Modean. As with any marketing commu- nications campaign the competitive environment had to be taken into account. "We knew Pioneer's major competitor would be introducing a new soybean trait around the same time as the launch of Y Series," says Davies. "We had no doubt they could create noise in the market with their level of spending, so the sim- plicity of our message would be the leverage we needed to offset it. When we finally saw their campaign and its lack of clarity, we were confi- dent our approach would pay off." MESSAGE OF CHANGE "The media mix had to reflect the level of the message importance --- that this changes everything," says Pat Reese, McCormick Associate Media Director. The media plan was designed to surround the target audience in the message and wher- ever possible use creative units that reinforced the uniqueness of the Y Series message. The print campaign was launched with a multiple-page series of teaser ads to build a solid founda- tion for all the elements to follow. "No body copy, just the key message and name," says Rod Randel, McCormick Account Supervisor. "Once we had teased the target audience, the real fun began," adds Reese. "One way we broke through was with innovative executions that no other agricultural advertiser had used before." An example is an insert that appeared in Farm Journal. This single-page insert featured a 12-page mini-booklet that took the reader through the Y Series story in an intriguing fashion. "We wanted to be playful," says Steve Nottingham, McCormick Senior Art Director. "Besides the booklet on the front, the insert's back had 44 postage-stamp size 'found art' images of Ys in various forms." The American Business Media's Creative Excellence in Business Advertising (CEBA) award recently recognized this groundbreaking creative unit as a category winner. Other dominant print units included an innovative gatefold in Successful Farming; cover wraps in regional publications, and premium positions in Farm Progress publica- tions. "Tabloid-size advertising for Y Series was like running outdoor billboards every 20 miles along I-80. You couldn't ignore it," says Davies. Other tactics included a heavy radio schedule featuring the "voice GAME-CHANGING COMMUNICATIONS by Janell Aust, McCormick Company Several members of the McCormick "Y team" are shown above, including Evan Davies, Tiffany Bronson, Rod Randel, Patrick Sheridan, Steve Nottingham, Cheron Herrera and Jeff Modean. (Inset) The Pioneer tent at the 2009 Farm Progress Show draws a grower audience looking for information on the unprecedented Y Series soybean performance.
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