How John Deere dispelled gender stereotypes & engaged conservative audiences in a new way
The campaign won the top prize for Marketing Strategy for Energy and Industry at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas.
In 2021, John Deere faced supply chain shortages and labor issues due to the pandemic, resulting in delayed equipment orders for at least 18 months. This situation sparked a critical question for the manufacturer: How do you market and sell as an equipment manufacturer when you can’t fulfill equipment orders?
Recognizing the challenge, an opportunity arose to create a story-driven campaign that would promote inclusivity in farming and push the brand’s target audience to see a new kind of value in the brand.
To rise to the challenge of finding an alternative approach to advertising when equipment production was severely impacted, the brand tapped brand development, marketing and design firm Signal Theory.
Instead of focusing on the features and benefits of the machines, Signal Theory and the John Deere team set out to convey the brand’s stance on inclusivity, dispel outdated stereotypes and honor the role of women in agriculture.
Women make up 30% of the farming industry in the US, yet many still view the profession as one for men alone. Brands in the space don’t tend to help dispel the myth and frequently fail to represent diversity in its marketing efforts. John Deere decided there was an opportunity to present a different side of the brand and engage its predominantly conservative male audience in a meaningful way.
To meet its goals, Signal Theory pushed John Deere to invest in a different kind of ad campaign. The agency worked to assuage initial concerns that the audience would not be receptive to the message. But Signal Theory positioned the idea as an opportunity for brand building and showcasing a previously unseen aspect of John Deere.
The spot, titled, ‘A Different Kind of Crown,’ saw a young girl inspired by her father’s belief in her abilities. It emphasized the importance of diversity in farming, highlighted the contributions of women in agriculture and spoke to the challenges that women face in breaking stereotypes. By launching the spot during the holiday season, when farmers and their families were more likely to be engaged with digital media, a captive audience was targeted.
The spot received an overwhelmingly positive response. It earned more than 71m impressions, primarily through organic sharing. According to Infegy, a social listening and media analytics platform, the ad garnered a 100% positive sentiment score.
By shifting the focus from selling equipment to promoting the company's purpose, values and commitment to inclusivity, John Deere successfully demonstrated a departure from its previous advertising strategies – while winning more brand love.