John Deere Seeks Chief Tractor Officer to Lead Social Media


John Deere is running a celebrity-driven social media campaign for the first time in its 185-year history, as it kicks off a contest to recruit a “chief tractor officer” who will create TikTok content for the brand.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy launches the search alongside fellow player Colton McKivitz. A promotional video for the competition, which opens today (April 16), follows Purdy and McKivitz as they hop into a tractor on a cross-country road trip to find the new face of John Deere’s social media.

Their voyage is delayed by enthusiastic video calls from other athletes and influencers, including Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, tennis player Anna Frey, business influencer Natalie Marshall and agriculture content creator Laura Farms.

Candidates can enter the contest through April 29 by submitting a short video to that demonstrates their passion, creativity and humor. John Deere is open to applicants who have experience in agriculture or construction, but could also choose someone with little knowledge of the brand who can share their own story of discovering what makes it relevant.

The goal is to change how Gen Z perceives the legacy company, building brand fans, attracting new customers and boosting recruitment.

“We wanted to get outside of ourselves,” John Deere’s global director of strategic public relations and enterprise social media, Jen Hartmann, told ADWEEK. “Deere is a pretty conservative company and we’re hoping that how we show up on TikTok looks vastly different than what people might have expected from Deere in the past.”

The company enlisted Purdy because the Iowa State alum married into a farming family and spent part of a bye week last year harvesting crops, Hartmann explained. The brand chose the other ad’s stars based on their social media reach.

“TikTok is exceptionally good at algorithms and we knew if we just stuck to athletes it would only reach those folks that have a strong interest in sports,” Hartmann said. “We wanted to make sure that we were reaching all the audiences that those influencers represent across the channel.”

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