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Pick a peck of pepper growers in Florida. Make an ad and put it in a magazine for them.

It doesn't really have the makings for a good nursery rhyme. Heck, there aren't even a peck of bell pepper growers in Florida. But it does have the makings for a successful campaign to let growers know about a new pepper variety and the seed company selling it.

So how many growers are there? Estimates range from a couple of dozen-plus to as many as 50. So why use a print ad to reach 50 growers? That was the question I had when I first noticed the ad among the 2001 Best of NAMA winners. Created by Lorenz Advertising, San Diego, for its client Enza Zaden, the ad was intended to help introduce Enza Zaden's new Orion pepper variety to Florida growers. Wouldn't it have been more effective to just go knock on the growers' doors?

Print was selected for several good reasons, say the people responsible for the ad.

The company itself needed introduction to growers. With headquarters in Holland, Enza Zaden has had a presence in the U. S. only since 1994.

"We were new to North America and felt publications were the best way to reach our customers," says Shannon Pike, area sales manager with Enza Zaden North America, Salinas, Calif. "Print was a good umbrella approach to connecting to our customers."

A premium seed breeding company, Enza Zaden's products include seed for lettuce, spinach, endive, escarole and others in addition to peppers. While the ad touted the new pepper variety, Enza Zaden gained name recognition with growers for future sales of other vegetable seeds.

Grower numbers can be a bit deceptive, too. While these pepper growers may be few in numbers, they are mighty in acreage and the market supply they represent. It's estimated these growers in Florida and extreme southern Georgia keep the entire eastern U.S. supplied with peppers.

The magazines in which the ads were placed - Citrus & Vegetable Magazine, American Vegetable Grower and Florida Grower - target these growers exactly.

"There was a more heartfelt reason for doing publications marketing," Pike says. "Publications appeal to one of the senses, touch. Agriculture is a taste-touch-and-smell industry. To bring something as close to life as possible, you use a publication."

Brian Lorenz, president of Lorenz Advertising, San Diego, Calif., says paper is "reality." He likes magazines because they provide a "human, personal feel."

"It's important to be able to feel and smell something, to hear it when you turn the pages," Lorenz says.

"Magazines will never go away," Lorenz says. "They're easier on the eyes than a monitor. It's just like music. You're going to listen to music for a longer period of time if it's soothing. For the eyes, a magazine is a more preferable resting place than the computer monitor. For example, people don't rest their eyes on their computer monitor when they're talking to someone on the phone."

The other reason Lorenz opted for print was economic.

"If the budget is large enough, we'll go for both print and electronic media," he says. "Pepper growers are not 'online only.' And we don't think ag lags behind in electronic technology. But the reason we opted for print is effective return for the dollars Enza Zaden invested, which in this case meant print."

The ads were part of a broader campaign that included a brochure and other collateral pieces. The ads worked because they were targeted to a specific group of readers, the same group of growers for whom the variety was developed, Pike says.

"This one pepper variety, Orion, was advertised to one of the main markets where it was going to work," he says. "It has disease resistance that suits Florida. We do feel we were successful with the Orion ad. That's why we've used publications." AM

Debby Hartke is a communications consultant based in St. Louis.

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