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Agrimarketing : October 2012
86 Agri Marketing October 2012 Editor's Note: Given the pace and scope of mergers and joint ventures in agriculture, we thought it would be appropriate and enjoyable to rerun a humorous presentation from 26 years ago that focuses on the end result. Mr. Strock was employed and owned an ad agency before finishing his career teaching the profession at the Universities of Nebraska and Florida. He passed away in 2008. Peering into the future is a lot of fun. I especially like the movies that transport you ahead to the year 2040, after the little green guys have taken over Planet Earth, and Hari Krishnas have been tossed out of all the airports. So I probably shouldn't have been surprised the other night when I had a dream about the future. There I was, having a chat with the man who had been the last-ever president of NAMA ... right before it disbanded forever. "The whole thing caught us by surprise," he said. "What did?" I asked. "Why, the farm situation. Somehow no one had noticed. The first person to suspect the truth was the publisher of Farm Journal. He was putting out 921,146 different versions of every issue." "That's a bunch," I said. "Sure, but he had one version for left-handed men who favored blue tractors and raised both soybeans and sunflowers. There was another for corn growers who were divorced but had kept custody of the kids. Really sorting 'em out mighty fine, y' know. "Then one day his circulation manager came running in with terrible news. It appeared that all 92,146 versions were going to just one address! Naturally they couldn't believe it, but after weeks of checking the computer tapes and telephoning the field editors, they learned the awful truth. "There was only one farmer left in the entire United States. "He owned all the farmland. He had all the cows and pigs. All the orchards and vineyards and cotton fields. He'd even bought out Frank Perdue, so he had all the chickens and even all of Frank's lady friends. "It was a shocker, let me tell you. Especially coming right on the heels of the so-called Final Merger ... the one that created the conglomerate called Cibasanto/Pio-Deere/ Elancorina International Limited. They say it was all put together by a consortium of Swiss and Japanese. "But they had competition ... the last surviving co-op called Agland O'Farmex. "One thing everyone wondered about was what they'd do for an ad agency, since the only one left was called Doyle/Lorimar/Wegener and Partners. But that was settled the day the co-op decided go to in- house. They hired the only person in the United States to graduate with an ag communications degree that year. She was their ad manager, media analyst and copywriter. Even drew a little, they said. "Whoever she was, she was a crackerjack. That last year she picked up 932 Best of NAMA awards, when you count the 42 regional competitions plus the national. "Well, it looked like the Farm Journal people had the world by the tail. All the other farm books had gone to telemarketing or the videocassette business. But then Ralph Dralle came out of retirement with a brand-new publication called 'Onliest Biggest Farmer.' There was the usual cheap gossip about how The Last American Farmer spent 13 minutes a month less with Ralph's book than with Farm Journal ... according to Starch, anyhow. But in the long run what hurt him was that killer of a CPM. "Besides which, there was hot competition for the ad dollars. For example, the TV boys had a helluva pitch, providing that national network spots were the only sure y Farmer. Like they always said, you're not trying to cover farmers, you're trying to cover acres. Finally made sense. But at half million per spot, you had to wonder if it might not be cheaper to take The Last American Farmer and missuz down to the Holiday Inn and buy them a nice pot roast dinner. "The guys who benefited most from all this were the market researchers. We're up to 131 ag market research outfits at last count ... all of them picking through the brains of The Last American Farmer and pre-testing ads and checking how and when he makes buying decisions. "They said that's why he finally built that motel across the road from his place. Sixty rooms, full nearly every night. He spends all winter in focus group meetings. Just him and a bunch of researchers. "At least we're fairly sure the results are projectible now. "You're probably sitting there thinking that direct mail was the big answer. But The Last American Farmer said he never opened any of the direct mail ... he just shredded it up for chicken litter and sent one semi truck a week filled with it down to these broiler houses in Arkansas. He said leafing through those 92,146 editions of Farm Journal and reading the two ads in the --- one from Cibasanto/ Pio-Deere/Elancorina and the other from Agland O'Farmex --- pretty much filled up most of his evenings." And then the alarm clock went off. AM THE LAST AMERICAN FARMER by Clancy Strock
November December 2012