New Toro Machines: Mowing Time, Two Seconds

Lawn-Mower-BIn its new spring campaign, lawn-care company Toro is continuing an unusual, creative approach to touting lawn mowers that it began last year: outlandish exaggeration. The campaign for the TimeCutter zero-turn riding mower (which can turn on a dime) and the Toro TimeMaster 30-inch walk-behind, suggests that using the machines accelerates mowing to Einsteinian velocities. Well, it doesn't exactly approach the speed of light (since, if it did, we and all of our descendants would be dead by the time the lawn were mowed.)

The campaign, via Minneapolis-based Campbell Mithun, supports Toro’s "Count on it" tag, and will run through May, paired with last year's Treadmill ad for the walk-behind mower.

Reid Holmes, executive creative director at the agency, tells Marketing Daily that while the new effort departs from the creative style of last year's treadmill-themed ad (that one had a whimsical, animated feel where a guy is mowing on a treadmill while a rotogravure of his domestic world swings past) the new campaign is still deliberately farfetched. "We thought we could do something as fantastical, playing with reality." 

The ads are in 15- and 30-second versions. One part shows a guy telling his son that he's off to mow the lawn and will play baseball with him as soon as he's done. About two seconds later his wife gazes out the window in amazement at a completely mowed yard with father and son playing ball. "It's an absurd level of speed happening in a mysterious way," says Holmes, adding that the creative had to change because it touts two mowers. “We could have ended with a demo spot [the traditional creative approach showing a mower at work], but we wanted to hit home with the message about time saving. Nobody else is talking about it in this way." 

Campbell Mithun also handles Toro’s snowblowers, but does it in an unusual way: the media run is structured so that when a given region is forecast to have snow, the agency turns on the media buy. "It's ‘snow triggered’, so when the weather forecast in a certain market calls for snow, that forecast triggers creative in that market," he says. "Toro wants to be efficient about its media buys." The media buy for the mowers also has regional strategy, as it starts a bit earlier in the south, with the buy across sports, news, and general entertainment cable channels. 

Chicago-based market research firm Mintel has its own weather forecast for lawn care. The firm says lawn and garden product sales -- which had a steep post-recessionary decline -- will grow 20% over the next five years, reaching a total of $45.1 billion by 2016. And forget Millennials for now. The firm says younger consumers are the least likely to bite as they don’t have much in the way of outdoor space. This generation group does, however, over-index for gardens. How about a Toro handheld harvester? 

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