Agriculture’s B2B marketing doesn’t have to look far to find its humanity.
After marking a half century in the storytelling business this year, ag-focused creative firm Bader Rutter’s client list features some of the sector’s larger players. That includes livestock drug producer Zoetis (with a market cap of $77 billion), chemical and seed firm Corteva ($46 billion) and frozen-food company McCain Foods, which averages nearly $7 billion in annual revenue.
Yet the business of agriculture in the United States remains tied to stories of individuals and families working land and raising for animals. Bader Rutter focused on multigenerational farmer and rancher relationships in its Born of the Bond series, which took home honors from the National Agri-Marketing Association Awards in 2022. They also co-founded and produced award-winning work for the Veterinary Hope Foundation, which employs practicing veterinarians to look out for the mental health of their colleagues.
In the middle of all of it, agency president David Jordan balanced the heritage of agricultural marketing with a rapidly changing business environment that looks far different than it did half a century ago. Jordan grew up on a small-town dairy farm in Illinois and has raised and shown dairy cows for more than three decades. After navigating that experience as a gay man, Jordan has advocated for greater representation across agriculture and its marketing.
Adweek spoke with Jordan about the future of U.S. agriculture, who’s included in that future and how business to business marketing needs to address their presence and principles.
How has marketing to the agricultural community changed since the pandemic, and what have you done to better reach people who use the products your suppliers carry?
Jordan: One of our secrets to success in helping our clients market to those communities is that we employ people who not only understand it, but live in it. About 10% of our workforce lives in rural communities: farmers and ranchers, a veterinarian that we have on staff that helps with our pet care practice.
Agriculture is a recession-resistant, essential industry. That industry didn’t stop during a pandemic, but we did have to change as sales reps couldn’t be on the farms directly with producers. We had to think about ways to intersect people’s busy lives.
One way that manifested tactically for one of our clients was that they said to us, “Hey, can you send out an email to our customers, because we don’t think people are getting to the farm gate as much as they were.” And we said, “Wait a minute, these folks don’t read emails. They’re in tractors, they’re in combines. they’re in semi trucks. Why not figure out the best way to get a podcast to them in a way that they’ll listen to them?” We understood the demographic of millennial farmers was much more open to hearing advertising in podcast and also listening to podcasts.