WS agency finds agribusiness a good place for growth
The role of advertising agencies has changed and continues to be challenging, as media decisions have to take into account the trusted press, radio, TV and outdoor, along with many new forms, including the puzzling world of social media and lead generation.
And sophisticated busy clients are demanding more proof of return on their investments.
Calgary agency WS introduced a new concept called Insights and Analytics a couple of years ago that has enabled it to make every move for its clients on informed data and designed by measurable results.
“Gone are the days when the audience was captive," president Jeff Groeneveld says. “Now, understanding how best to reach them involves understanding who they are, where they are and what they believe in.” His Insights process puts data to work for brands, identifies customer persona, buyer journeys and user behaviours, which informs strategy at every step, from planning to deployment.
It works well for a growing number of clients, 60 per cent of them involved in a wide range within agriculture, food and related industries. Now in its 16th year, WS is owned by Jeff and Susan Groeneveld, who is vice-president of strategy and agency partner, and since moving into larger space on 8th Avenue S.W. they have been able to hire additional staff to cope with the increase in business.
Ric Fedyna joined WS as executive vice-president of creative after 15 years with McCann in Calgary, where he served as creative director and general manager. He is happy to return to a full-time creative capacity and has made his mark on WS business, including coming up with the WS tag line of We Solve With Soul.
Other new hires include art director Joel Heyland and copywriter Sean Mitchell, while Evan MacLeod has been elevated from digital director to associate creative director. The team is enjoying a busy year and some great results have been measured on behalf of their clients.
Arysta LifeSciences has been an active account for the past 15 years. Headquartered in North Carolina, the leading crop protection and life science company challenged WS with the goal of establishing its Rancona Pinnacle ready-to-use seed treatment offering disease protection on wheat across Western Canada. The campaign showed a brand awareness increase of 35 per cent and a 25 per cent increase in sign-ups for its Grower Rewards Program.
Another longtime agricultural client is Versatile Tractor, Canada’s only agricultural tractor manufacturer based in Winnipeg. Purchases of equipment are major business decisions for farmers who are faced with strategic choices of comparing many factors from price to serviceability.
WS handles marketing from initial awareness to the shaking of hands over a purchase agreement, which includes a website allowing the sale of these mighty machines online.
Online is also being used by client Beefbooster, a top supplier of bulls, not for looks alone but selling based on historical data and hybrid genetics. WS campaigns helped Beefbooster sell all of their bulls in 2017 — more than 200 to buyers across Canada — and 21 per cent of its 2018 inventory has been sold online.
WS is also working with Vive Crop Protection to promote a new liquid fertilizer; Federated Co-op in naming and branding its professional agronomist service; and Morris Industries, the Saskatoon manufacturer of equipment pulled behind a tractor.
A big user of Prairie-grown product is the recently opened High River Brewery Company that uses the history, legends and landscape in its marketing. WS helped name and design the labels that include Rising Pheasant Brown Ale and Floating Barn Pale Ale — a reminder of the catastrophic 2013 floods.
Like many other good Calgary companies, WS supports local charities and created quite a stir with its Make Hunger Rare campaign on behalf of Alberta Beef Producers in collaboration with Mealshare.
Waste doesn’t exist in nature — it’s a man-made problem, says the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design. Forty per cent of landfill waste comes from construction projects, and the faculty, along with GXN Innovation and Laboratory for Integrative Design, is holding a Designing Out Waste exhibition in the downtown campus Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 that presents new research on how the problem can be tackled.
The WS team, from left Susan Groeneveld, executive vp strategy, Jeff Groeneveld, president and Ric Fedyna, executive vp creative.