NEW HOLLAND'S FUTURE CAMPAIGN
by Bradley Failor, Communications Coordinator, Colle+McVoy
A brand is not just great advertising. It's an idea that is big enough to create relevance in a way no brand has before. Each and every brand has the opportunity to invent its own future, and fortunately for Colle+McVoy, that was exactly the forward-thinking assignment that New Holland gave us. With this challenge, the agency created a comprehensive branding effort that capitalized on New Holland's core identity and ultimately helped them own the future.
The Future brand image campaign that began in 2005 was de-signed to build the business and grow the New Holland brand, providing robust support to dealers across the country with a bold national campaign that signaled a dramatic departure from tradition. The campaign was a departure not only within the industry, but also from what New Holland had done in the past, and it needed to get to the very heart of the brand's identity.
According to Dawn Fox, New Holland Brand Communications Manager, the challenge was "to develop a campaign approach that would appeal to livestock and crop producers, as well as rural life-stylers." New Holland didn't want to be just like any other agricultural equipment company, fighting in a market crowded with similar-sounding rivals.
BRAND IDENTITY INSIGHTS
At the initial planning stages, Colle+McVoy sat down with New Holland and had a brainstorming session, and from the very beginning, the client and the agency set out to answer the core, elemental questions about the brand's identity, asking, "Who is New Holland, and what makes us different? What do we have to say about ourselves?" From these discussions, and based on New Holland's product technology and styling, three predominant attributes — modern, innovative and dynamic — coalesced into a compelling, singular brand identity: New Holland is the brand of the future.
To gain insight into what futuristic truly meant visually, Colle+McVoy and New Holland had a "scrapbook session" — actually cutting pictures out of magazines and discussing what makes something look and feel "futuristic" or "innovative" — to have specific visual stimuli that defined modern, innovative and dynamic and come to a common, conclusive understanding of what the brand personality should ultimately look like. It quickly became apparent that the Future campaign was not about individual products; it was about the entire New Holland brand, and subsequent customer and dealer surveys gave the agency's plans solid direction.
Amy Myers, Colle+McVoy's director of account planning, said, "The producers all had a latent desire to have the coolest thing in the field, but these guys didn't necessarily want to talk about why something is or isn't 'cool.' They're very rational, and [the brand campaign] needed to reflect both sides of that."
In addition, what came through loud and clear from the dealers was, "Get the New Holland name out there; get customers in the door, and we'll do the rest." Their enthusiasm and challenge spurred Colle+McVoy on to create what became the Future campaign.
The Future campaign had to be an all-inclusive endeavor bringing these concepts of modern, innovative and dynamic to life in everything that New Holland communicates, acting as a sophisticated and invigorating agent that grows pride in the brand among customers, dealers and company employees. Instead of focusing on specific product features and benefits, the ads in the campaign were not designed to sell a specific model of tractor, haytool or crop production equipment — they were meant to sell the characteristics of the New Holland brand and articulate exactly who the brand is and what it stands for.
"It all begins with the product. New Holland has a great product, so our biggest challenge was, 'How do we make the advertising as cool as the product?'" said Colle+McVoy group creative director Dave Keepper.
New Holland had to stand out among competitive ads in their own industry, which showed equipment and people in typical situations and usually contained more text than would probably be read.
The agency along with the client carefully chose the points they wanted to make, came up with some very creative ways to make them and then boiled them down in the editing process. And the ads look like nothing else out there.
Using stark, unconventional backgrounds where farm equipment isn't found — sand dunes, the desert, the wild grass — and juxtaposing them with close-ups of the machines provided a compelling and clean display for each piece of equipment.
"The backgrounds don't get in the way," said Keepper. "They frame the product because the audience isn't looking at the crops in the ad trying to figure out where it is, or what season it is, or what weed killer they're using. When you strip that out, it's all about the metal. It's all about the machine."
The photography was a mix of stock and custom shots. Each machine was lit to make it simultaneously realistic looking and unusual. The images were then digitally superimposed on the backgrounds. The ad for the TN-A tractor, with a mirrored reflection that looks as if it is standing on the top of a lake. In order to get that realistic reflection, New Holland actually flooded the company parking lot and the tractor was photographed standing in water.
No matter what publication they appear in, these dramatic ads draw attention and capture the readers' imagination. In advertising, half the battle is just getting the readers' attention, and these ads have certainly proven that they will do that.
Ad concepts were tested with livestock and crop producers. "Several were impressed by the way the background provides an eye-catching, simple showcase for each machine," said Fox. They liked the fact that the backgrounds were very different places from where we would normally expect to see the machines. They also commented about the "wide open" and "sky's the limit" feelings suggested by the backgrounds. That's the main reason they are so attention grabbing, and that they strongly reinforced New Holland's brand image of owning the future.
New Holland's possession of the future in its new messaging also put them in an advantageous position by reassuring New Holland users and non-users alike that the company is committed to staying in the industry for a long time. One user said, "I want someone who'll be there for the long term, and they don't say that directly in the ads, but they convey that through their boldness, like saying they're the largest tractor manufacturer in the world. You know they're serious."
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
As the compact tractor market expands, so does New Holland's need to appeal to a consumer audience, specifically the rural lifestylers. Squeezing the most impact out of a limited budget was Colle+McVoy's group contact strategist Laurie Christen's job.
"We looked for opportunities where there wasn't just one single contact with the consumer," said Christen, "Our contact planning approach was to discover opportunities for us where packages went beyond one insertion and put together multiple points of contact."
In addition, building New Holland's brand image was not limited to print advertising; much of the media the agency chose was new school as well. Colle+McVoy employed inserts, Web ads, bellybands that highlighted financing promotions and never-seen-before, clear plastic bumper stickers that said, "Don't Follow the Herd." It was vital to not only use innovative, provocative messaging, but also integrate it with cutting edge mediums that underscored New Holland's bold and unique identity.
In several locations, dealers who have served primarily farm customers for most of their history now find themselves in a different environment, where urban sprawl has turned the farm land around them into housing developments.
"Some dealers have made the transition easily, and are serving their changing customer base well; others are struggling with it. The change in our philosophy and techniques helps the ones who are struggling, and hopefully, encourages an exchange of ideas among dealers as to how to take advantage of new opportunities," said Fox.
Coming through on the challenge to "get the New Holland name out there," the agency had succeeded in exciting New Holland dealers nationwide. Colle+McVoy produced a three-part teaser mailing to dealers, advertising a company wide conference call to discuss the new brand identity, and a staggering 90 percent of the dealers called in.
It was a unified sense of purpose and an eagerness to invent the future that enabled New Holland and Colle+McVoy to show off a great brand, a brand that is not stuck in the past, but one that is nimble and continually focused on what lies ahead. For a 111-year-old brand, the future has never looked brighter for New Holland. And at 71, Colle+McVoy's not doing too shabby, either.