INTEGRATED PRODUCT LAUNCH BUSTS SALES GOALS
This is the story of a unique product called the Eazi-Breed CIDR Cattle Insert, a product developed by InterAg, Hamilton, New Zealand, and licensed and marketed in much of the world by Pharmacia Animal Health, Kalamazoo, Mich.
THE UNIQUE PRODUCT
The Eazi-Breed CIDR (pronounced "seeder") Cattle Insert is a T-shaped silicone device that is impregnated with progesterone. Placed in the vagina of the animal, the insert releases progesterone until it is removed seven days later. Removing the CIDR insert, following a five mL injection of Pharmacia's Lutalyse Sterile Solution on day six, causes a drop in progesterone, triggering estrus and ovulation.
Using the Eazi-Breed CIDR Insert in combination with Lutalyse to enhance the breeding process provides several major benefits for beef and dairy producers: higher pregnancy rates and fewer reproductive culls; more efficient heat detection and animal handling; easier and more successful use of artificial insemination; and increased herd profitability.
The technology is also used to treat anestrus beef cows that do not cycle because the physical demands of a suckling calf cause a negative energy balance. The CIDR insert supplies the progesterone necessary to "jump-start" cyclicity.
The Eazi-Breed CIDR Insert was first developed and used in New Zealand, where dairy grazing cultural practices dictate seasonal breeding and calving, much like the United States' beef industry. Cows have a brief window of time in which to become pregnant if they are to remain with the herd.
FDA approval for use in the United States arrived in June 2002, missing much of the spring beef breeding season last year. It is labeled for beef heifers, beef cows and dairy heifers, but not for lactating dairy cows.
Because the registration arrived later than hoped, the Pharmacia Animal Health dairy and beef marketing teams, in concert with their agency counterparts at Morgan&Myers, Jefferson, Wis., had to respond quickly when the good word came from Washington, D.C. Fortunately, the industry was eagerly anticipating the message.
"This is the first real cattle breeding innovation in more than 20 years," says Chris Roeder, dairy marketing manager for Pharmacia Animal Health. "Because Eazi-Breed CIDR was already approved and available in Mexico and Canada, many U.S. producers had heard great things and were looking forward to trying it themselves. Plus, we had seven universities involved with efficacy trials. So, we were able to take advantage of a lot of industry buzz as FDA approval came closer."
In the beef market, Pharmacia is well positioned in feedlots but had a limited presence in cow-calf operations. "We had to enlist influencers to carry our message to beef producers," says Forrest Roberts, Pharmacia beef marketing manager. "Veterinarians, AI company representatives, university extension and the media were key targets."
According to Karen Potratz, senior counselor at Morgan&Myers and leader of the Eazi-Breed CIDR account team, the marketing strategy strongly linked Eazi-Breed CIDR with Lutalyse Sterile Solution, a well-known but maturing heat synchronization product with several generic competitors. The CIDR insert is labeled for use with a Lutalyse injection and is seen as a way of increasing the effectiveness of Lutalyse breeding programs and therefore increases customer satisfaction. "This results in greater use of Lutalyse, of course, and puts a damper on the generic competition," Potratz says.
COMPLEX STORY, SIMPLE MESSAGE
As is often the case with new technologies, there was a need to pack a lot of information into the product story. New name. New cultural practice. New economic appeals. New benefits. New ways of thinking. Complicating matters further was the realization that the campaign had to appeal to both beef and dairy producers - limiting the use of photos of animals or producers in prominent ways. Ultimately, the story was reduced to a central and universal benefit statement that worked for both beef and dairy mQrkets and became the key copy point and tag line that all cattlemen understand: "Breed more cattle in less time."
Q: What image conjures up "fast reproduction?"
A: Rabbits. Lot of rabbits.
To instantly drive home the fast reproduction story, the agency's creative team developed a concept that played off a striking full-bleed photo overflowing with white rabbits. The headline - "You'll have your cattle reproducing like ... well, you get the idea." The creative "rabbit" platform ultimately unified the message for Eazi-Breed CIDR ads, literature, digital executions and training tools.
"The U.S. launch campaign was an extension of a global branding strategy put into place by our global marketing team," says Roberts. "We worked closely with Brad Fain, former global manager, to ensure that the identity and messages were consistent with CIDR promotions in other parts of the world."
The rabbit concept was informally tested on a global basis through an internal Pharmacia survey. According to Roeder, feedback indicated that in most corners of the globe, the rabbit is quickly associated with reproduction, fertility and breeding.
While the CIDR insert was being made available in other nations, the United States was the first to conduct a major launch. The "rabbit ads" were pre-tested via a producer panel and confirmed that the creative was squarely on target.
TIGHT TIMING, TURNAROUND
With the beef breeding season well underway at the time the label was received, the Morgan&Myers/Pharmacia team had to communicate quickly. With the manufacturer located overseas, a two-week window was available for communications before the product became available for purchase in the United States.
Complicating matters was the fact that the new technology required training for proper use. Some producers had prior use experience in other countries, but the U.S. product was a different formulation, and some misperceptions had to be overcome.
The communications launch materials had been planned, and much of the creative was in the final approval process when the label was received. Because of the uncertainty of the FDA registration, nothing was actually produced in advance.
The advertising media plan focused on dairy and beef vertical trade publications, as well as bovine veterinary publications. Upon receipt of the label, insertion orders were issued, and the ad schedule broke using the quickest availabilities. Production of multiple "rabbit ads" was finalized, distinguished only by subtle copy differences based on species and audience.
Because the CIDR insert was already available in other parts of the world, a special product Web site was already in place. However, the site needed significant updating to announce the U.S. label and new content to include new use directions as well as the results of the numerous U.S. trials. The new content was pre-developed and was ready to go live on the Web when the registration arrived, notes Potratz.
WEB CASTS REACH INFLUENCERS, MEDIA
In anticipation of the late label receipt, the Morgan&Myers/Pharmacia planners settled on a Web cast as the quickest and most direct way to reach cow-calf reproduction influentials (DVMs, AI representatives, university extension specialists). The date for the Web cast was scheduled in anticipation of the label. Special letters of invitation were mailed to the influencer group as soon as the label approval was confirmed.
The Web cast program included use instructions and results of the Eazi-Breed CIDR Insert in field tests. Sixty-two targeted influencers attended the Web cast and immediately became message multipliers for the new CIDR insert technology.
The influencer Web cast was held in the morning and was followed by a special Web cast press conference for editors in the beef, dairy and bovine vet media that same afternoon. News releases, feature articles, photos, trial data and contact information were provided to the press electronically. Follow-up conversations were held with each targeted editor to make sure each could ask individual questions and receive information of special importance for expanded coverage.
COMPLETE EDUCATIONAL PACKAGE
An extensive educational training kit was developed for influencers in both the beef and dairy industries. The kit consisted of a simple, rugged folder with heavy-duty contents designed for repeated tough use. The kit was provided to those attending the influencer Web cast, as well as mailed to a list of 2,000 veterinarians, AI technicians and other message multipliers. The kit was also used extensively by the Pharmacia sales force. Included in each kit were:
The educational kit also provided response cards that encouraged influencers to order more brochure materials, additional kits and a free demonstrator insert (without progesterone) and applicator.
The results were immediate and astounding.
Pharmacia reached its six-month sales goal within two months of the campaign launch. While some of that success is attributed to pre-approval label anticipation, it is clear that the communications campaign accelerated adoption and sales of the CIDR insert. Sales of Lutalyse Sterile Solution also had a parallel boost during (and since) the launch.
The beef influencer Web cast and other influencer-education tools were a proven contributor to the launch as well. Ninety-three percent of those attending the influencer Web cast responded that they were "likely to recommend" Eazi-Breed CIDR to their clients. Sales data show that they were true to their collective word.
The beef, dairy and bovine practitioner trade media results also contributed to elevating this new product launch beyond the ordinary. Rather than running a routine new product announcement, most targeted publications gave the CIDR insert extensive feature treatment, sometimes devoting a full spread to the editorial coverage. One hundred percent of the target publications gave the CIDR insert editorial coverage.
The sales boost was accompanied by a three-time increase in traffic on the CIDR Web site - measured in terms of visitors and average page views. Customer inquiries on the Web site, as well as mail responses from the educational kit, depleted initial literature stocks, resulting in additional printings. AM