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Opportunity. Potential. Premium. If you had to create a marketing campaign for a product built on those words, where would you start? That's exactly the challenge AdFarm faced when Dow AgroSciences Canada asked them to help market a new canola variety.

Longtime client Dow AgroSciences Canada has developed a business based on canola that yields a character-trait oil. The varieties that produce this oil are branded as Nexera canola and the resulting oil as Natreon. The crop is grown under an identity-preserved contract system. In 2004, Dow AgroSciences Canada planned to introduce a new generation of Nexera canola varieties that incorporate the CLEARFIELD trait - its herbicide tolerant canola (HTC) system. But what truly sets Nexera apart from competing varieties is the oil, not the varieties' agronomic features. Natreon oil is a premium high-oleic, low-linolenic oil product.


Natreon is naturally stable without hydrogenation. Food processors use it in a range of products, including cookies and crackers, in response to consumer demand for reduced trans fats, which are formed during the hydrogenation process. The oil is also a stable and durable product for frying and, as a result, has captured a significant share of the Japanese market. The challenge Dow AgroSciences Canada and AdFarm faced was how to introduce the improved range of Nexera 800 canola varieties, while at the same time increasing producer understanding and interest in the overall marketing opportunity.

"Historically, when a new canola variety came out you'd flip open a copy of a magazine and see an ad with a guy standing in a field of yellow flowers," explains Stan Audette, Dow AgroSciences Canada communications manager. "Or maybe the ad would show a farmer in the field with swaths or with a combine. The copy would emphasize yield, yield, yield. It might talk about standability, herbicide tolerance and disease resistance. But generally it would talk yield. Pretty standard approach."

But that all changed with the Nexera "Healthy Living" campaign. Dow AgroSciences Canada worked with AdFarm to put together a marketing strategy that emphasizes the unique marketing opportunity that the character-trait oil offers - instead of immediately highlighting yield benefits and agronomic traits. It took the traditional idea of a variety introduction and pushed it in new directions.


Todd Ormann, who heads up the Dow AgroSciences Canada account team at AdFarm, started working on the Nexera campaign a year and a half ago. He said the challenge was to focus on the Nexera brand rather than on CLEARFIELD, which was better recognized by growers.

"The Nexera value system became the primary focus of the marketing campaign," says Ormann. "First there was the unique benefit of the Natreon oil to the end user, followed by the CLEARFIELD system itself, followed by the varieties' high yields and solid agronomic traits. Together, these factors, including a premium for Nexera canola, give growers the highest gross return per acre as compared to other varieties."

However, Ormann admits that if they had concentrated on promoting just one of those factors, the new varieties would not have been successful. But "all three make for a much stronger package."


So what made growers stand up and take notice? Ormann credits the success of the campaign to an integrated communications plan.

"Before we launched the new varieties, we developed an internal campaign that educated the sales force. They knew how to position the product and what to focus on when they were meeting with growers. Instead of relying on the usual messages of yield and agronomics, we emphasized the unique opportunity that Nexera offers," he says.

Brent Zacharias, marketing specialist for Canola Seed and Traits, says, "One of the most difficult things was finding the right balance between the new varieties and the overall Nexera brand. The addition of the CLEARFIELD trait to Nexera varieties was exciting in its own right, but together with the agency we also saw that we had to grow interest and commitment to the entire concept of producing a specific premium oil for identified end markets. This is a chance to meet needs and create value for everyone."

According to Glenn Dawes, AdFarm's creative director, the chance to work on this campaign was energizing. It was a chance to focus on the value and opportunity of the crop, rather than merely a part of its production. This opened up new creative options. For example, the image chosen to represent healthy living was a male athlete doing a pushup in a field. That's a striking departure from the majority of images in the competitive set.

Accompanying the double-page, full-color print ad was an insert that promoted the agronomic traits of the variety. Dawes explains the rationale behind the combined print ad and insert. "We wanted to show the benefit of the opportunity for growers - healthy living - rather than focus on the benefit of the variety, which is high yields and agronomics. The demand for Natreon oil is not driven by economic or agronomic traits. It is driven by worldwide demand for a product that promotes healthy living. So we let the ad speak for the opportunity and let the insert speak for the variety," he explains.

Using an athlete to represent the opportunity was only one component of the print campaign. Growers still needed to find out how they could get this opportunity to work in their fields. That's where the insert came in.

As Dawes notes, "It's hard to bridge the gap between promoting the end use of a product and the product itself. This is really uncharted territory in agriculture advertising. But because we added an insert to explain the variety's traits, we were able to bridge the gap with technical information. This was a unique opportunity for both our agency and the client."

According to Dawes, the response to both the print and outdoor ads has been excellent, especially from farmers.

"I think that farmers are encouraged, not just because the ads show someone other than a farmer but because they show that farmers grow food that has a healthy component. Plus, there is a sense of beauty in the ads that producers aren't used to seeing. It is rewarding to execute a campaign that celebrates the contribution of producers, while at the same time meeting the business needs of our client."


According to Stan Audette, there's good news out in the fields this year as well. Contracted acres of Nexera canola varieties have doubled over last year. As well, there is continued interest in Natreon oil from major food processors and export markets.

Zacharias adds, "We seek to play a leadership role in enhancing and adding value to canola itself. We feel that this campaign has helped us move forward.

"The great thing about the Nexera brand and Natreon oil is that consumers are asking for it, processors are demanding it and growers are benefiting from it. That's gold for everyone involved," he says. AM

Written in the strictest confidence by Ron Wall of AdFarm.

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