by Ron Wall, AdFarm
What if you could take a product that was a virtual unknown and, in just a couple of seasons, not only increase sales and market share, but dominate the category?
Well, that's precisely what AdFarm and Bayer CropScience did for Raxil T, a cereal fungicide seed treatment that had little or no brand recognition just a few years ago.
Today, Raxil T is the number one selling seed treatment for barley and number two in wheat for western Canada. And the campaign took home the Best of Show award in its category at the 26th Annual Canadian Agri-Marketing Awards.
Now this isn't the first time AdFarm, which is Bayer CropScience Canada's agency of record, has worked on promoting Raxil. In fact, two years ago AdFarm was instrumental in launching Raxil as the "Toughest Thing in Pink" to the market in western Canada.
Why pink? Well, seed treated with Raxil is covered with a pink film to distinguish it from non-treated seed and as a quick visual to confirm seed coverage. But, then again, so are all the other seed treatments on the market and, historically, growers depend on the recommendation of retailers when it comes to product choice for seed treatments.
LAUNCHING WITH A GUSTO
"We knew we had a product that performed but what we really needed was for growers to ask for it and retailers to recommend it." explains Lee Dechaine, AdFarm's Team Lead for the Bayer CropScience Canada account. "Our challenge was to launch the product with some gusto, and reestablish its credibility as a proven product."
And launch it with gusto they did. What's tougher then a well-toned boxer staring you down? What's more memorable then a boxer wearing bright pink trunks? The "Toughest Thing in Pink" was born.
"Rather than appealing to the rational side, we went right for the emotional jugular. We got ourselves a good looking professional boxer and had some very pink boxing trunks designed just for him. From there, we just took the campaign as far as it could go," says Dechaine.
In 2006, Raxil got even tougher with the addition of a new active ingredient, Thiram. With it came a rebranding thanks to a new name, Raxil T. That's when they pulled out all the stops to promote the product including producer-directed print and radio, editorials and special events aimed directly at the distribution channel.
TOTALLY INTEGRATED CAMPAIGN
"This was a totally integrated campaign," says Becky Elliott, Co-Team Lead, Bayer CropScience, AdFarm . "We wanted to own the color pink when it comes to seed treatment so we had to make sure that everyone related pink with Raxil T."
Full page, full-color ads ran in major ag publications. Supporting those were radio and outdoor advertising that reinforced the message. Public relations also played a key role. Producers attending trade shows could take their turn at a Raxil T punching bag at the Bayer CropScience booth, and local boxing matches became a great drawing card for Bayer CropScience producer meetings. Direct mail pieces that targeted cereal growers kept hammering the message home.
"No doubt about it, the campaign got attention and people started talking. Advertising in ag publications in western Canada doesn't typically feature a well-toned boxer wearing pink boxing trunks promoting a cereal seed treatment," Dechaine says.
Of course, engaging the sales force is critical to the success of any product launch and they were included in every step of the campaign. A highlight of the campaign was a full card of amateur boxing at the annual Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers convention. The final round featured the Raxil T boxer
taking on Mister Smut. Of course, Raxil T triumphed, knocking Mister Smut down for the count.
"It was important that we had some fun with this and I think that is one of the reasons it is such a success," says Elliott. "People still talk about it and that's the kind of word-of-mouth promotion that money just can't buy." But it's obviously something that smart, integrated communications planning can deliver.