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Understanding the Ag Business

A big win for Calgary’s McCann West


The ag industry is misunderstood, by consumers and by business.

But the industry-leading innovation of Bayer Crop Science Canada, providing farmers with a portfolio of crop protection products, seed treatment technologies and plant biotechnology, together with the dynamic marketing and communication savvy of McCann West’s excellence for best-in-class strategic and creative services – is changing that perception.

“It’s not as simple as saying that Canadian consumers and business are misinformed, it’s more that they are under-informed,” says Karen Pearce, president of McCann West. “A recent Canadian Centre for Food Integrity survey shows that 54 per cent of Canadians are concerned with food safety, while 93 per cent of them say they know little about Canadian farming practices.

“Canadians are confused and questioning the safety, quality and the sustainability of their food but, for various and valid reasons, their impression of agriculture today is declining.”

She is positive and upbeat about the challenge of relevant and valuable information. “Like with most information intake, many people read headlines and 140 characters versus taking the time to get the whole picture.”

Effectively telling the story of Canadian farming can get complicated. “Bayer has been working with McCann since 2011, and we are pleased to take that relationship to the next level by awarding them our full portfolio of brands,” says Lauren Davis, marketing communications manager at Bayer Crop Science. “It was very important for us to consolidate our marketing communications with one agency because, now more than ever, we are able to offer a full range of solutions to Canadian farmers. The ag category is complex, and McCann has an integrated team that deeply understands our business.”

At the core of McCann’s focus is the reality that crop science is essential to explore, investigate and understand how crops are grown most effectively and sustainably. Pearce emphasizes that new threats like pests and disease, optimizing soil health and developing seeds make crop science and technology critical for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the planet.

“Being born into farming is no longer enough to be a farmer,” she adds. “It’s a very sophisticated business that requires constant innovation. In addition to soil science and all the science behind crop protection that results in higher yields in more sustainable ways, technology is vital to help farmers be more precise. Digital farming platforms, as one example, allow farmers to aggregate their field data in one place and is changing the way farmers make operating decisions to impact seed and crop performance.”

As the full-service advertising agency for Bayer Crop Science Canada, Pearce explains it’s vital for McCann to focus on the nuances of the various regions across Canada and to fully understand and support the farmer in every aspect.

The federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth recently stated the farming sector should aim to become the second largest global exporter of commodities and food by 2025. “For farmers, that means big challenges for higher yields, battling climate change realities and more scrutiny on food integrity.

“We collaborate with many Bayer partners both locally and around the world to help bring customized solutions to the farmer here in Canada,” Pearce notes. “Which means marketing everything from seed to harvest to help shape agriculture for the farmers and consumers.”

She underscores that information is the driver. “We want to play our part in helping Canadian farmers grow healthy, safe and affordable food in a sustainable way.”

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