BEST OF SHOW - ADVERTISING
IGENITY. KNOW. NOW
By Alane Saphner
Two years ago Merial approached Bader Rutter & Associates, Brookfield, Wis., about launching an integrated campaign for a new category of services called functional genomics. Awareness, understanding and industry buy-in were crucial components; however, the challenge was larger - create a category, build the brand, position Merial as the leader, and help producers understand this new science.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
The premise was simple: DNA gives large animal producers precise genetic information about individual cattle. Sure, producers can swallow that. Producers have witnessed DNA's effective use in numerous high-profile court cases, watched as forensic science has made "CSI"a hit television series and heard about how genetics holds the answers to disease. But apply that same technology of gene sequencing and DNA forensic science to the juicy steaks or cheddar cheese that cattlemen and dairymen produce? Hardly.
Through IGENITY, Merial planned to give producers more information than ever before. The beauty of this new technology is that producers could know genetic potential - and predict performance - before an animal enters production or before it is even conceived. As exciting as this new market segment and science were, Merial knew education would be critical.
"As the pioneer, we took the responsibility of establishing the category and helping producers relate to this revolutionary science by translating it into useful, easy-to-understand information," says Stewart Bauck, head, IGENITY Livestock Production Business.
It was obvious that the platform had to be as unique and innovative as the science it represents, yet simplified in a way that made it easy to relate to and understandable enough so producers could see how the product could benefit them. With the help of Bader Rutter, the IGENITY brand communications were created to identify category potential and empower the brand with the precision and intelligence that the science revealed.
BIRTH OF A UNIQUE IDENTITY
The first step was a heavy dose of market research. Focus groups throughout the United States and Canada helped determine the marketplace potential and define the audiences. From there, a comprehensive marketing communications platform was developed.
The name - IGENITY: The naming process began with a few basic building blocks relevant to the new offering. The name would have to involve the category of genetics or functional genomics and involve tests that identify the potential of animals based on genes. Also, the moniker would empower cattle producers to make decisions based on the unique potential unlocked by the identity of the individual animal, as coded by the animal's DNA.
So it was born: IGENITY, the DNA testing service from Merial that identifies at birth - or anytime thereafter - the genetic identity of the bovine.
The descriptor - Testing Service: IGENITY was always viewed as a journey rather than a destination. "We knew this would be a rapidly evolving category, and that the brand and its support materials had to be built in a way that could advance at the speed of scientific discovery," says David Jordan, account service lead for IGENITY at Bader Rutter.
"From the beginning IGENITY was never intended to be communicated as a product - always as a service," explains Rod Goodall, director of Merial's IGENITY Livestock Production Business. "It was always our goal to focus on the advanced knowledge provided by test results and the resulting empowerment provided by the knowledge."
The theme line - Know. Now.: IGENITY had to embody empowerment to producers. The brand promise had to be simplified to a statement that reflected this dynamic new science and helped producers understand that with this new tool, they were now in charge. "Two words captured what we were looking for, Know. Now," says Jones. "The brand's theme line very concisely conveys the essence of the brand - empowerment."
The creative campaign: The marketing team credits the campaign's success to the creative elements, which delivered a simple, clean and almost scientific appearance. But at the same time, these creative elements effectively communicated an uncomplicated message about an overwhelmingly complicated concept.
"The hair follicle visual was something every cattle producer in the country could relate to, so that put this high-tech category right into the cattle lots and milking parlors of America," says Bob Shriner, vice president and associate creative director at Bader Rutter. "Conceptually, we had to keep the message simple in mass communications, and allow other materials and public relations to deliver the results."
The print advertisement showed that DNA testing is now a reality at the producer level. All that a producer had to do was send in a few tail hairs to decode information that once took years to discover. "Creatively, the IGENITY platform had to be an easy-to-understand message," Shriner points out.
Beyond the color and imagery of the campaign, the constant symbol in the communications pieces was the unraveling strand of DNA. "In an ironic way the DNA artwork spoke to the promise of the category," notes Jordan. "In the foreground of the graphic you see the specific section of the DNA, and as the section unfolds it implies what the technology has to offer today. Then on the horizon, you see endless sections that point to the vast possibilities as the category matures."
The first DNA-based test available from Merial, IGENITY L, was launched in the dairy market in late 2003 and in the beef market early in 2004, with creative units hitting beef books in January 2004.
"For beef and dairy, we targeted national publications aggressively, but we also targeted specific breed publications to reach seedstock producers and other key influencers, both in ad placement and in public relations efforts," notes Jordan.
Other brand rollout tactics focused on educating the marketplace and building awareness. These layered communications included Web-based advertisements, a Web site (www.igenity.com), personalized customer service at 1-877-IGENITY, aggressive public relations, strong presence at trade events and consistent, ongoing media relations efforts. In addition, an academic symposium on functional genomics was held, industry leader meetings were called and a wide variety of educational materials was produced for both internal audiences and producers.
"We were very successful in preconditioning the market during the first six months of 2004 to allow for an easy rollout of eight additional tests and services to the portfolio in fall 2004," says Jim Tate, marketing manager, IGENITY Livestock Production Business at Merial.
Merial reports livestock industry leaders, including breed associations, A.I. companies, USDA and university researchers, have been eager to meet and collaborate with the IGENITY management team.
If interest of the ag media is any indication of what the category will mean for the industry in the future, then IGENITY and functional genomics are sure to advance and grow. Jordan reports, "The education-based media relations program delivered more than 3.7 million publication impressions since the launch of the business, and the announcement of the business platform has made Merial a technology magnet with researchers around the globe."
Much is still to be learned about the tremendous potential of future IGENITY offerings. But this much is known: an exciting new source of knowledge is available to give beef and dairy producers new insights into management. And, because of the effort put forth to establish this new brand in this new category, the groundwork has been successfully laid for future product offerings and still more tools for the business-minded producer. AM
Alane Saphner is an account executive for Bader Rutter & Associates.