Anatomy of a Brand Story: Ritzy Home, Real Farm

Story: “Ritzy Home, Real Farm”
Client: Massey Ferguson tractors
Magazine story:
Web package:

“What’s not as well known is that Biltmore, which today encompasses 8,000 acres, is home to a variety of other farming enterprises, including cattle and sheep operations totaling some 1,500 animals. Though most of the estate’s acres are forested, crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, sunflowers and sudangrass are grown in any given year.”

Why it’s compelling:

The grandeur of the Biltmore house and gardens attracts more than 1 million visitors each year, yet few know the full extent of the estate’s agricultural enterprise. With a 1,500-head livestock operation, acreage for raising various crops and timber, and an award-winning winery, the now 8,000-acre Biltmore property is home to a sizeable and highly regarded farm. Such success is a topic of interest to the FarmLife readership, as are the extravagances of Biltmore’s original occupants and the estate’s rich agricultural history.

The photographer on the piece knew how to capture the iconic home and the agricultural narrative in the same frame.

The photographer on the piece knew how to capture the iconic home and the agricultural narrative in the same frame.

Biltmore’s scenic beauty, as well as its architectural opulence, are visually stunning and offer especially compelling subjects for photography: the mansion, formal gardens, and farm operations all with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. To capture the story in pictures, we hired a photographer with experience shooting Biltmore, who understood how, as well as where on the massive estate, to frame its many components and reinforce the story’s narrative.

Why it’s credible:

The Biltmore’s Gilded Age flamboyance and its reputation as a tourist attraction actually presented hurdles in our efforts to establish the story’s credibility with our readers. Spend too much time on its grandeur and the reader is left wondering why this story is in a farm magazine. Instead, we bridged quickly to the estate’s farming operation, introducing the reader not to a public relations specialist or corporate executive, but the farm’s manager, Kevin Payne.

Payne not only describes the breadth of Biltmore’s farm endeavors, but is also out front about an unusual aspect of his job—maintaining a manicured appearance for the estate’s guests. Yes, there is a certain “for-show” quality to the Biltmore farm, but it’s on top of what is a real agricultural operation. The reader comes to understand there’s an additional degree of difficulty to Payne’s job.

How it’s connected:

The Biltmore staff have in their care a successful agricultural operation, as well as a national treasure. By the time the subject of farm equipment is broached, the reader understands the staff can and should choose the very best in partners, including their brand of farm equipment.

At Biltmore, success is not an option, but a requirement. Maintaining these hallowed grounds and managing a first-rate farm is a job that requires the performance of an exceptionally wide range of tasks and reliably precise operation. From maintaining areas where visitors frequent to feeding livestock and raising crops, the work at Biltmore is demanding, as are Kevin Payne and his staff. They expect a lot from their tractors, and for 35 years, when they started using Massey Ferguson, they have gotten all that and more.