Bayer CropScience Canada, maker of agricultural products such as herbicides and fungicides, has chosen MacLaren McCann Calgary as its agency of record, ending a 20-plus year relationship with cross-town agriculture specialist agency AdFarm.
The agriculture industry is known for long-term relationships between agency and client, but Derrick Rozdeba, manager, integrated communications for Bayer CropScience, said his company has grown and changed in 20 years, and while its prime demographic is mostly over 55, the company has to be ready for a new, younger generation of farmers.
When it sent out an RFP last January, it was “looking for experience in communications rather than agriculture. With MacLaren McCann, we saw a breadth and depth of expertise we didn’t have in areas like customer engagement, digital and French-language marketing.”
However, knowledge of agriculture and farmers will continue to be critical for any marketing strategy, added Rozdeba. “This is a unique demographic. They live and breathe their work every day. They talk about both their family life and their business life at the kitchen table every night, and our marketing strategy has to understand and appreciate that mindset.”
Ric Fedyna, MacLaren McCann’s senior vice-president, said his agency had hired two former AdFarm employees to bulk up its agricultural expertise. MacLaren McCann media entities M2 Universal and MRM have handled Bayer’s media planning and digital marketing for more than a year and “that has given us some [agricultural] experience,” added Fedyna.
Winning Bayer CropScience meant the agency had to significantly increase its staff, said Fedyna. By the end of May, he expects employees to increase to 40 from 30 pre-Bayer. Additional staff was also necessary to handle the fist-full of other accounts the agency has won in recent weeks, including Calgary’s SAIT Polytechnic, the Calgary Board of Education, the Alberta Government’s Emergency Alert program and stock photo company Fotolia.
MacLaren McCann’s first campaign for Bayer will come out this fall, said Rozdeba, and will likely make more use of digital, social media and other Web-based strategies. “Today we can’t just push the messages out to them. We need to use technology to have a dialogue and provide them with some useful information.” He added that the new campaign will also include the usual direct marketing and mass media advertising.