BrandWorld sets its sights on rural dollars with new masthead

Content marketing specialist BrandWorld has just launched Field Trials, a new masthead that aims to showcase products targeted at farmers.

And the first company to feature under the new banner is entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth, which struck an agreement to promote its probiotic products Queen of Calves and X-factor.    

This new masthead marks a change in direction for BrandWorld, in the sense that this is the company’s first foray into the rural market. Although the previous four mastheads – Discover, The Extra Mile, Eating Well and Family Health Diary ­– do sometimes feature products that appeal to both the rural and urban markets, the new offering will focus exclusively on targeting farmers—and this could prove to be a lucrative move.

“The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Brandworld’s managing director Richard Stevens. “It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.”

Despite these impressive numbers, most mainstream agencies have thus far been reluctant to take on rural clients.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reluctance,” says Kim Ellet, the host of the new masthead. “It’s more a case of it being a specialist field that certain agencies focus on.”

Although not affiliated with BrandWorld’s new project, one such agency is Tracta and its managing director Andy Walker thinks that a lack of cool factor might play a part in dissuading many agencies from taking on rural clients.  

“I wonder if, till now, the rural sector has been ignored or overlooked by advertisers in the face of more attractive sectors,“ he says. “Tourism [recently]took over as our biggest earner and became the glamour industry, while farmers languished having to compete with exchange rates (which have almost doubled over time) as well as the weather and an inefficient industry structure.”

However, Walker notes that this trend is starting to change.  

“Now we see things are turning. World food demand will double by 2050 and Asian countries are gaining a taste for proteins and animal fats (McDonald’s does it again), so now we see agencies saying, ‘hey, maybe something’s happening here that we want a piece of’.”

This narrative correlates quite strongly with the numbers-focused justifications given by BrandWorld for entering the rural market.

In an email, BrandWorld put emphasis on a broad range of statistics from the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“Over the past 25 years, productivity in the primary sectors has grown strongly. The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates the agriculture sector’s total productivity has increased by an annual compound growth rate of 3.3 percent,” says one excerpt from the Ministry’s observations.

Despite these facts, Walker says that his experience in the industry has shown him that marketers often don’t afford a CEO-level of respect to farmers.

“I can’t believe some of the ads … that dumb farmers down, try to be funny, speak in funny “farmer” type voices and feature cartoons or packs of drench with wings attached to them,” he says.

“Granted not all farmers are rocket scientists but they are savvy and run multi-million dollar enterprises – you wouldn’t advertise a BMW to CEOs the same way we advertise to farmers,” adds Walker.

Ellet says that the team at BrandWorld has noticed a similar trend in the advertising pitched at farmers, and this is exactly what they want to avoid with the new masthead.

“Unlike the common, ‘farmer bloke standing with his elbow on a fence post telling farmers to buy this or that product’ type of ad, Field Trials are mini-programmes, providing real facts and figures, the results of real field trials, and useful tips and advice for farmers,” says Ellett.

And to reach farmers with its message, BrandWorld is relying on its established combination of TV and online advertising.

“We will be screening Field Trials during shows such as The Block NZ and news, as these are popular with farmers. During the screening, farmers will be prompted to visit the website, where they will be able to access testimonials and additional information,” says Ellet.

The choice of online advertising might not seem like the obvious approach to use when targeting farmers, but Walker says it makes sense because “farmers are moderate to heavy internet users (though slightly behind the wider population).”

This when combined with the fact that farmers are also avid TV watchers means that BrandWorld has an audience in its chosen channels. But the onus now lies on the company to produce content that resonates with Kiwi farmers, so that other companies follow in Bell-Booth’s footsteps by profiling their products under the new masthead.       

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