Anatomy of a Brand Story:
Dairyman’s Digest

Story: “Dairyman’s Digest”
Client: Massey Ferguson tractors
Magazine story:
Web package:

Why it’s compelling:

John FiscaliniJohn Fiscalini and his son Brian run a dairy in one of the most challenging environments in the country. It might be hard to imagine, reading the Fiscalini’s story, that the family farm faces environmental pressures, but in the San Joaquin Valley of central California, dairies have long been blamed for poor air quality and other environmental woes. In fact, the Los Angeles Times (in a much-disputed and talked-about story) blamed dairies in the Valley for causing more pollution than cars.

Rather than fold under the pressure, the Fiscalinis decided to turn a perceived negative into a big, energy-producing positive. With methane under fire as a major pollutant, the family invested hundreds of thousands in a methane digester that, once fully operational, will not only produce enough electricity to run the dairy, but also enough to sell back to the grid. As with other energy-progressive articles we’ve produced for FarmLife, the idea is forward-thinking and presented in a way that makes it appear within reach for similar-sized operations.

Why it’s credible:

As we’ve mentioned before in our work, brand stories typically begin in a credibility hole. That credibility gap can result from any number of factors, but we think the one of the biggest ones is simple sunshine-pumping. Obviously you want to be positive about your brand message, but you also want your sources (and therefore the brand story itself) to be believable; that means telling the unvarnished truth.

Besides covering the environmental pressures in the region, we and our client allowed the Fiscalinis to be real about the pros and cons of such an investment, and were clear that the project is still in the investment stage. Meanwhile, though, we spent a great deal of time in the article showing how innovative, forward-thinking and successful the family had been in its other agricultural endeavors, lending credibility both to the decision the family made to invest in the methane digester and to the sources themselves.

How it’s connected:

Red Barn works through our client’s dealer network to find great sources for brand stories. Rick Grey, a Massey Ferguson dealer in the Valley, helped us find the Fiscalinis and even visited the farm with us. John was clear in his interviews that he and his farmhands don’t “baby” the tractors; they are worked hard. Since John owns vintage equipment, we focused on the durability and reliability of the machines, as well as the advantages of using genuine parts when there is an issue. “Our guys [at the dairy] do a lot of the maintenance and service, but if something breaks down, we don’t want to put an aftermarket part on there or something that’s gonna be defective or not the high quality we expect from [Massey Ferguson],” says John.

A consistent approach:

“Dairyman’s Digest” began with a story in FarmLife magazine, but was leveraged across all of the client’s digital channels as well. Extra content (including video, an insider’s look at the family’s artisan cheese operation, and recipes for the family’s products) were posted on the FarmLife website, Links were built to these “destination” pages from Facebook, the client’s primary web presence and in email campaigns. The nifty thing about a brand story with such depth and such strong brand ambassadors is that it can be leveraged again and again in social media and digital campaigns, focusing on different aspects of the story or different media elements each time, all the while reminding customers and prospects of the strong heritage the client has in the utility tractor market and the reliability they can expect from the client’s parts and service arms.

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