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GOOD AS GOLD
How do you market a familiar product in a new way? Give it a new name, create new awareness and need for it, and connect key players via communication tools such as the Internet. Pfizer Gold, a program that involves repackaging existing calf vaccines, has done just that, and with great success.

The Pfizer Gold Web site changes with the seasons, featuring information on spring vaccination and a registry of Pfizer Gold users who are selling or moving calves in the fall.
Marketing products already being used in the marketplace is no easy task, but Pfizer Animal Health Canada's Pfizer Gold program has certainly met the challenge. Their program, created in collaboration with Marketing Communications Group Inc., London, Ontario, involves repackaging spring cow/calf vaccines already in use under the Pfizer name. Geared towards cattle producers and buyers, the Pfizer Gold campaign promotes the use of spring vaccination, highlighting the benefits of incorporating it into herd management and production practices. The campaign then markets the Pfizer Gold products as fitting into these practices and connects producers, ranchers and veterinarians for effective coordination of livestock care.

"Pfizer Gold is essentially the repackaging of four vaccines that were already being used under the Pfizer name," explains John Besterd, president and CEO of Marketing Communications Group. "Producers stand to have much better protection for their herd using the Pfizer Gold products. And this translates into the protection of their investment when they're buying cows/calves and in production and ranching.

"By pulling the vaccines together and marketing them as a premium spring vaccination program, we have created a well-organized program that is easy to participate in," Besterd says. Plus, it promotes its participants. If farmers use the Pfizer Gold products, they will be registered as having Pfizer Gold spring vaccinated calves, and Pfizer Gold will promote the sale of their cattle.

And how does Pfizer Gold accomplish all of this? It's the Web site - www.pfizergold.com. In today's world of the Internet savvy, marketing programs for the Web are integral. The site promotes the Pfizer Gold products as well as the program's participants and is an important and easily accessible tool for those in the cattle industry.

The Pfizer Gold campaign promotes the use of spring vaccination, highlighting the benefits of incorporating it into herd management and production practices.
Like the rhythm of the cattle industry that changes with the seasons, the Pfizer Gold Web site content shifts in the spring and in the fall. "The spring Web site focuses on the benefits of spring vaccination," says Besterd, "as well as the dos and don'ts of spring vaccination." The site is aimed at both producers already enrolled in the program and those who might be considering moving to a spring vaccination. "Spring vaccination is relatively new in the cattle market," Besterd explains. "So the Web site is essentially an awareness tool and an education tool." He says cow/calf producers are recognizing the benefits of moving to spring vaccination and are doing so, and the Pfizer Gold Web site seems to be playing a key role in this change.

"The spring site also acts as a resource tool," Besterd says. "New information about vaccines is available, as well as articles written by veterinarians. We include all communication pieces that we think are going to be beneficial to producers and veterinarians, whether it's on disease control or the latest and greatest herd management techniques."

The spring site also offers a section geared towards veterinarians. Vets already using the Pfizer Gold spring program can turn to the Web site for important information and advice, and those simply interested in finding out more about spring vaccinations can do so on the site as well.

The fall Web site features information from producers and vets about how the program is working for them. "We report on how people are doing with their spring vaccinations, as well as the herd management issues that they are controlling," Besterd says.

Perhaps the most important feature of the fall site is the registry system that includes all ranchers and producers who have registered under Pfizer Gold. These are the people who will have Pfizer Gold calves to sell or move to feedlots. "This is where we get into promotion, and we actually list all the Pfizer Gold sales that will be happening by province and by geographical area," explains Besterd. "You can type in a postal code or city and find out immediately where and when Pfizer Gold cattle sales will be held."

This immediacy is what Besterd says the fall Web site is all about. "We update the site on a daily basis," he says. "So as soon as someone registers as a producer or a ranch with the number of head that they have vaccinated, their information is locked into the database and is updated as soon as things change. Unlike a print publication that takes much more time to create and must be sent in the mail, with the Web site, you have instant access to the most current information. This is especially helpful in the fall when there is a need for that."

"The Pfizer Gold program itself was set up to highlight to producers and vets the benefits of spring vaccination and to create a straightforward spring vaccination program for producers that is easy to use," says Besterd. "And the Pfizer Gold Web site was set up as an effective communication tool to complete these tasks."

Besterd explains that in this day and age, producers, ranchers and veterinarians are highly technical, highly connected and utilizing the Web, including as a production and herd management tool. So the Pfizer Gold Web site certainly is a medium through which meaningful communication among the industry players can take place. "And because we're talking about a national program, the Web site is, again, an ideal communications resource," Besterd says.

With the help of the Web site, Pfizer Gold has been a very successful campaign. When the Pfizer Gold program started in 2000, there were already calves being vaccinated in the spring with the Pfizer Gold products, just not under the program name. Since the program began, with the Web site as an integral component, there has been an annual increase of 600 percent in the number of head vaccinated and the number of participants registered. AM

Susan Falk is staff writer at Issues Ink, a communications company based in Winnipeg, Canada, which publishes several agriculture magazines, including Germination and Manure Matters.


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