Troy-Bilt Lets Gardening Enthusiasts 'Think Spring'

Gardening and yard care power equipment maker Troy-Bilt is going beyond the product pitch to an appeal to brand equity with a new social, consumer-generated content program, "Think Spring," which lets digital neighbors talk over virtual garden fences. 

The effort, via Cleveland-based Marcus Thomas, centers on a new Web site where gardening enthusiasts can create 60- to-90-second, partially animated videos offering gardening tips and showing off what they have grown and created. The effort, part of a larger multichannel campaign, is promoted by online advertising and includes a competition where consumers will vote for the best gardening-enthusiast videos, which then go to final expert judging, with the winners getting gardening equipment and other prizes. 

Dave Evans, senior account executive at Marcus Thomas, tells Marketing Daily that the company decided to take its message social to target gardeners 25 and older, both because of the budget benefits and because the company and agency were encouraged by the 2013 social media program Troy-Bilt did on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Social-driven responses were 50% above forecast, far exceeding media-driven. 

"The social platforms and channels were new last year," says Evans. "And we found it very interesting that yard enthusiasts, people that don't find working in the yard a chore -- for them it's a point of passion -- were very willing to share their work, and their stories and passion about gardening with us; and we were surprised by how many conversations it generated among fellow enthusiasts." He says that since the new site launched on March 20, there have been some 17,000 visits

Troy-Bilt, a division of Cleveland-based MTD Products, Inc. and Marcus Thomas, saw that respondents last year used Troy-Bilt’s Facebook page—unsolicited—to post about their own yard work and gardening experiences. The new campaign  includes a video-builder where gardeners answer sets of questions about their experiences, and a channel for uploading photos. Or they can choose images from a Troy-Bilt image gallery to illustrate their efforts. 

The site converts the pictures and the gardener’s own words into an animated video using a graphic style and soundtrack of the gardener’s choice. Users can share their videos via Facebook or Twitter, and content will also be in a public gallery where consumer voting happens. As part of the best-of competition, judges will select eight finalists on April 14. Those will compete in head-to-head match-ups on Troy-Bilt’s Facebook Page. Fans will vote to determine the winner of each matchup. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000 worth of Troy-Bilt products and Lowe’s gift cards. Seven additional finalists will get either $600, $400 or $200 worth. 

The program aligns with the brand's larger "See How We're Built" product-focused campaign comprising national TV ads, digital pre-roll interactive banners, partnerships with gardening and yard events and bloggers, per Jamie Venorsky, creative director at Marcus Thomas. He tells Marketing Daily that the TV buy is broader than the typical DIY cable vertical, with buys on Scripps and other cable networks as well as print. "Television is our greatest reach tool for driving awareness to the brand, so that's why we have gone a little broader." Troy-Bilt's tagline is “Built for Life.” 

There are also paid, profile-targeted Facebook newsfeeds, banner ads on owned and promotional partner Web sites, and by posts from six gardening/lawn care bloggers (the “Saturday6”) with whom Troy-Bilt says it has ongoing relationships, per Venorsky.

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