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MAKEOVER BRINGS MAJOR KUDOS FOR CRUSTY CANINE
Keep it fresh. Keep it fun. Keep it relevant. Oh! And make it stand out.

That's a challenge creative marketing teams face daily. This time, however, the subject was a well-established product in a crowded market. But a solid strategy, authentic messages and a healthy dose of humor built a winning ad.

The Canadian Agri-Marketing Association awarded Bayer CropScience and its agency AdFarm the Best of Show - Advertising for the Buctril M full-color print ad.

Competition in the broadleaf cereals herbicide market is tough. New technology, old technology and generics all compete for recognition and ultimately sales. Buctril M is a herbicide that farmers in Western Canada - and Eastern Canada for that matter - know well and trust. They've employed it for years. And they continue to use it for dependable, safe performance. Not very sexy, maybe, but it sells.

SALES ARE UP

"Buctril M sales have maintained good market share for 37 growing seasons because it's a steadfast workhorse," says Blaine Woycheshin, who was the cereals portfolio manager at Bayer CropScience during the development of this campaign. "With that said, if you're standing still, you're losing ground." In those words lay the challenge.

Aimee Rau, an AdFarm account manager on the Bayer CropScience team, has worked with the product long enough to remember that people associate Buctril M with the burly old bulldog that had been used in past print campaigns and other collateral material. She fondly remembered the bulldog air freshener that farmers used to hang in their tractors. "They didn't smell like bulldogs," says Rau. "But they certainly received recognition. Even today, you can still walk into some farm retails and see that bulldog Buctril M creative."

The client thoroughly explained the market situation and challenged members of both teams to come up with a campaign that not only grabbed attention but also creatively captured insights that conveyed the real meaning of a quality product facing competition from young bucks and generics alike. Despite some other innovative "long-term relationship" themes, building on the bulldog icon caught the attention of the creative department at AdFarm and the marketing team at Bayer CropScience.

WHEN YOU'RE THE KING, YOU HAVE IMPERSONATORS

Not everyone liked the ad. In fact, they either loved it or hated it. And that's usually a good sign. "The ad generated strong opinion," says Rau. "And when creative material produces that much reaction - either way - it's a good thing."

"Despite the internal chatter, Bayer CropScience has never published an ad that generated so much positive feedback within our own sales force," says Woycheshin. "It says a lot about the creative process. Great things happen when you allow the agency and creative team to have some fun and explore memorable options. The ad produced the significant stopping power we were looking for, and sales continue to endorse the product and our marketing team. We've decided to leverage the creative through 2005. It's just too good to let go. It continues to be relevant and sends the right message so we believe we should let it continue to do its job."

SAY CHEESE!

Once the concept was fully developed, the real fun began. Only one component of the ad was touched up in PhotoShop - Elvis' hair. The rest is real. Right down to the smile!

"That was a challenge," says Carolyn Machacek, AdFarm's art director for Bayer CropScience. "Bulldogs naturally sit with their mouths hanging open, tongue dangling out and drooling like only slobbery dogs can. We constantly threw treats into his mouth to make him pull in his tongue and close his mouth. Thank goodness for trainers or we would have been doing a lot more work in PhotoShop to make this palatable."

AdFarm and Bayer CropScience have been a team for 19 years. And every year, the relationship builds new bridges. AdFarm continues to go deeper in understanding the client, the product portfolios, and more importantly - the customers they serve. "It's always great to win awards, but we know a client can invest a bundle in advertising and marketing and still lose their shirt in sales," says Kim McConnell, CEO of AdFarm. "Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen." AM


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