Among events in the dairy industry, World Dairy Expo is revered by many as the greatest show on Earth. Months of preparation and detailed planning come down to a five-day international showcase for dairy cattle exhibitors and commercial exhibitors alike. Two advertising executives from Bader Rutter & Associates, Josh Hushon and David Jordan, balance the duties of exhibiting world-class cattle on the colored shavings while delivering impactful messages on the trade show floor.
“World Dairy Expo is the showcase of the dairy industry – people come from all over the world for this show and you want to make sure you have your best foot forward and stand out from the other exhibitors that are there,” states Hushon. “Just as much as you want to have the cow that people are talking about, you want to have the booth or the product that people are talking about.”
While their day jobs include crafting messages, positioning products and developing marketing communications plans for Pfizer Animal Health’s dairy business, both men share the same passion of showing cows. Jordan, who grew up with Jerseys in Central Illinois, also manages the marketing efforts for River Valley Dairy, owned by the Sauder family. Pennsylvania native Hushon has developed bell-ringing Brown Swiss in partnership with his brothers under the prefix Brothers Three. Their cattle are housed and cared for by fellow Swiss breeders, Topp View in Ohio and Ole Acres in Wisconsin.
This combined affinity for fine dairy cattle and marketing is nothing new around the office of Milwaukee-based Bader Rutter & Associates. Founded by Ron Bader in 1974, it has grown to be the largest agricultural marketing firm in the country with over 250 associates leading public relations and integrated branding and communications efforts for the likes of Dow AgroSciences, Mycogen Seeds, Pfizer Animal Health, John Deere Credit and Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), in addition to clients from outside of the farming world. Bader’s name not only echoes through the Exhibition Hall, but it also is recognized around the cattle barns of World Dairy Expo where his string from Carrousel Farms once dominated the Holstein show.
Likewise, the other members of their Pfizer dairy team have impressive resumes of dairy experience and achievements, including Amanda Eberle, Kristina Hopkins, Mandy Meissner, Nicole Starr and Laurie Underwood, in addition to Jordan and Hushon. “We’ve got what I believe is the best dairy marketing team in the industry,” Jordan says. “We all come from diverse farm backgrounds, several members of our team are involved in registered cattle while others come from larger several thousand-cow operations. But what we all have in common is a passion for the dairy industry and a passion for marketing communications.”
For the Pfizer team at Bader Rutter, getting their hands dirty on the cow side is an asset to their client. “Our dairy background is the heart and soul of message generation,” Jordan explains. “We can talk to producers and understand what their needs are and how they consume media, allowing us unique insight and perspective because we can craft content and messages that have a high likelihood of resonating with other people like us.”
Hushon agrees, “We try to know the industry really well, know our customers and know our client’s target audience and how they consume information. From there, we look at what messages we want to help Pfizer Animal Health share, then bring that information in a way that will reach our target customers.”
Certainly, Expo has a prominent place in their marketing plan, providing a forum for connecting Pfizer Animal Health’s technical experts and staff veterinarians to editors and key influencers. “What World Dairy Expo provides is an opportunity to have everyone together in one place,” Hushon says. His week will be spent making sure that all of the details are taken care of, from coordinating the trade show booth to facilitating meetings. Jordan likens it to the preparation it takes to get a cow ready for the showring. “Right before the show’s about to start, we can’t have the details fall apart,” he adds.
Natural-born communicators, both Jordan and Hushon have a knack for seizing marketing opportunities that spill over from their day jobs to their showing and genetics business. Both recognize the value of social media, video, a highly functioning websites and print advertising as promotional tools. “The challenge of knowing our audience for Pfizer is the same challenge for marketing our cattle,” Hushon
notes, “Knowing our audience, knowing what kind of information they consume and how to reach them.”
Jordan uses Facebook to spread news and updates from the River Valley herd. With over 1,700 “likes” and counting, this tool has served as a gateway for generating international buyer interest. However, the face-to-face networking that occurs at Expo still proves to be invaluable.
“World Dairy Expo for us is a lot about talking to producers and understanding what their needs are,” he says, noting that some of the most meaningful conversations he has at the show occur during “the long walk between the Coliseum and the Exhibition Hall.”
A consistent look and repeatable messages are as valuable for promoting genetics as they are for products. Jordan’s magazine ads for River Valley have taken on a signature look that has come to define the herd. To complete the package, the last sentence on each ad ends with the same phrase “… River Valley – Where Style & Performance are the Standard.”
Just as Jordan and Hushon breed their cattle to be at their best for World Dairy Expo, Bader Rutter works with its clients to time key initiatives around the show as well. “World Dairy Expo is always in the back of your mind as you’re making marketing communications plans for the year,” Jordan explains. “The show captures so much attention throughout the industry that it’s critical for us to put our clients’ message in a place where it will stand out.”
This year at World Dairy Expo, Hushon and Jordan are working with Pfizer Animal Health to launch a new Facebook page as well as help their client expand into mobile advertising spaces.
With great emphasis placed on Expo for their cattle and their clients, both Hushon and Jordan are fueled up with adrenaline during their favorite week of the year. “We just love it so much, that’s what drives us, that’s what drives the people that we work with,” Hushon says. “Being at Expo demands long hours both from your clients and your other interests that week. That’s what it takes to get it all done. And until it’s over, you don’t really realize how much work it was because it was all so much fun.”