CAMPAIGNS: Emerald initiative earns good score from golf market

PR Team: BASF (Research Triangle Park, NC) and Dudnyk Advertising & PR (Horsham, PA) Campaign: Growing the Green Brand - The Emerald launch Time Frame: April-Dec. 2003 Budget: $400,000 ($125,000 - PR, $250,000 - ads/direct mail)

PR Team: BASF (Research Triangle Park, NC) and Dudnyk Advertising & PR (Horsham, PA) Campaign: Growing the Green Brand - The Emerald launch Time Frame: April-Dec. 2003 Budget: $400,000 ($125,000 - PR, $250,000 - ads/direct mail)

BASF is renowned within the lawn industry for its best-selling herbicide products. But when it comes to fungicides for the golf industry, that's another story. In early 2003, BASF learned that Emerald, its fungicide foray into the golf industry, would undergo an expedited Environmental Protection Agency review. BASF wanted to generate instant excitement and awareness for Emerald, unknown in the highly competitive golf-fungicide market. BASF also faced restrictions, due to EPA guidelines on publicizing a product before its approval. So BASF had to generate interest quickly without violating those rules. Strategy Dudnyk decided to take a multifaceted approach, focusing on key editors and industry influencers whose opinions would resonate with golf-course superintendents and caretakers. With Emerald scheduled to hit the market in July 2003, Dudnyk knew spreading the word through the media and reaching influencers was crucial. "Those superintendents are the ones who make the decisions that keep golf courses nice, green, and beautiful," says Dudnyk VP Gary Gatyas. "Articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times would have been nice, but that wouldn't have moved the product." Tactics So Dudnyk launched a media tour with BASF executives, visiting editors for face-to-face meetings at titles such as Golfdom, Golf Course Superintendent News, Golf Course Management, and GolfWeek Superintendent News. While Dudnyk supported the PR with ads and direct mail, the key to the campaign was university research. Dudnyk provided samples of Emerald to researchers at Penn State and Rutgers University. "Golf superintendents pay attention to university research," says Gatyas. "Those universities developed research papers that gave third-party credibility." Recognizing that the superintendents' own experience with Emerald would influence peers, Dudnyk also provided samples of Emerald to some golf courses. Results Thanks to BASF execs meeting with golf editors in person, many articles were written prior to the launch, and many more heralded Emerald when it finally got EPA approval and reached the market. Articles published by those titles generated attention without violating the EPA's strict rules that kept BASF from publicizing Emerald itself directly. Once BASF received approval, ads and direct mail helped generate more interest. Just two months after BASF introduced Emerald, the fungicide generated more than $2 million in sales, which was particularly successful as it was introduced in July, a time when most superintendents have already done most of their purchasing. "This succeeded because it was a totally integrated campaign," says Dudnyk AE Amie Dunn. "We were able to go out with PR before the advertising, which helped pique people's interest. Once it was launched, we had an e-mail newsletter and e-mail blasts to superintendents that generated excitement and helped drive sales." Future Dudnyk and BASF have continued the campaign with more ads that showcase testimonials from the PR component of the campaign, and provided additional information to editors. Dudnyk is also sending out e-mail newsletters about the product, and generating case studies.

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