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Agrimarketing : March 2012
Sometimes there's a great marketing or public relations idea just waiting for the right opportunity. Such was the case when the John Deere Ag & Turf large ag creative team originated the idea to build a full-sized canned-food sculpture of the company's newest combine to draw attention to it and the important role farmers play in feeding the world. And, the team knew that, as an added bonus, the canned-food sculpture could smash the previous Guinness World Record for similar food-can sculptures, while helping feed hundreds of needy families. The John Deere creative team of Nicole Schneider, Project Co-Leader/Copywriter, and Richard Williamson, Project Co-Leader/Art Director, came up with the idea of creating the com- bine canned-food sculpture to "celebrate our farmer customers feeding the world." The life-sized S-Series Combine with 16-row corn head made entirely from more than 300,000 cans of food, was 60 feet wide, 80 feet long, 16 feet tall, weighing nearly 170 tons. "Every year we are challenged to come up with a new promotional campaign for our new ag products," says Schneider. "We'd had the genesis for the idea of creating a sculpture of a new John Deere equipment line and were waiting for the right product and the right time to make it happen." As Project Co-Leader Williamson explains, the opportunity presented itself with last August's launch of John Deere's new S-Series Combines, the world's most powerful harvesting machine. "The stars aligned perfectly for us to create the canned-food sculpture of the largest combine ever made by John Deere with its launch in late summer and the approaching fall grain harvest --- the perfect time to extol the value of America's farmers," says Williamson. "And the upcoming holiday season created the ideal opportunity to give back to the community." Barry Nelson, Media Relations Manager for John Deere Ag and Turf, says part of the John Deere mission is to help customers provide the food, feed, fuel and fiber needed to support a rapidly growing world population. "The demand for high- quality, safe, nutritious food is increasing as we move from 7 billion people today to 9 billion by 2050. As a result, feeding the world becomes an even bigger challenge for farmers using less land, water and other inputs to produce more food." COLOSSAL TEAM EFFORT For Schneider and Williamson to pull off "Project CAN DO" in a short four-month time period was going to take the help of the entire John Deere organization, including marketing support, corporate communications, factory and outside experts and hundreds of volunteers. (To see a video about how the world record sculpture was completed, visit http://bit.ly/wKNkCw.) "To do it right from start to finish and make it a success, we knew we had to pull in lots of help from across John Deere and the other participating companies that had expertise in doing these kinds of projects," adds Williamson. "That included finding a local food store that could help source and transport the thousands of cans of food, as well as other companies that could help design and build a sculpture the size of an actual combine." To make it happen, John Deere approached Iowa-based Hy-Vee, who didn't hesitate to jump on board and agree to help provide the more than 300,000 cans of food that would be needed to build the sculpture. For technical support, the team contacted Canstruction, which organizes "Canstruction Competitions" world- wide, and the Chicago architectural firm RTKL that led the design and construction of the project. "RTKL has been involved in a number of can sculpture events around the country, but this is by far the most ambitious," says Dan Russell, Project Designer, RTKL. "We dedicated an entire team of architects and engineers to design and build the sculpture." Russell says they started with creating a virtual computer model to scale, then broke it down into detailed pieces that could be recreated with real cans at the staging site. "The challenge was to manage the tremendous weight of the structure as we built it, without 24 Agri Marketing March 2012 JOHN DEERE'S "PROJECT CAN DO" by R. Kelly Schwalbe, Blasdel Cleaver Schwalbe Communications THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX The Guinness World Record John Deere canned-food sculpture depicts a new S-Series Combine harvesting corn. The sculpture, which contained more than 300,000 cans of food, was constructed last fall at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, IL.
January February 2012