How cows led me to a career in advertising.
The Early Years.
Growing up, I felt it was my civic duty to tell the story of dairy farming. My mom drove me everywhere — from a bank board meeting to the grain elevator update session to the ladies’ home extension meeting — to give 4-H demonstrations. While I am sure some of those members found my subject matter odd, they were unfailingly polite. Of course, my mom may have helped sweeten my presentations by making homemade ice cream from our fresh Jersey cows’ milk.
I am always game for talking about cows; however, I get next level during June Dairy Month. Did you know that National Dairy Month has origins in the 1930s, when the U.S. dairy industry was experiencing a surplus of milk that far outpaced demand? In 1937, the government started June Dairy Month to encourage Americans to drink more milk. And now, 90 years later, we are still celebrating.
You see, marketing is masterful regardless of the decade or moment in time. I remember being a young kid at the Illinois State Fair mesmerized by the beautiful cows from Carrousel Farms. I asked others, “Who owns these cows, and what do they do?” I learned it was Ron Bader who owned the farm, and he was in advertising. You could say that was the moment I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, because if advertising meant you could have beautiful cows, I was all in!
Fast-forward 30-ish Years.
This fascination and obsession with telling a story that resonates with people and captures their attention is something I have not been able to shake. I am now decades deep into a career that is carrying on the dream that Ron Bader and Jim Rutter established with the company Bader Rutter.
As chief growth officer at Bader Rutter, the nation’s premier agribusiness marketing agency, I have an eye on all the cutting-edge work our teams create. It’s our business to understand your business, and at our best, we understand our clients and their audiences better than anyone. When we bring creative masterminds, business strategists and subject matter experts (like veterinarians, business owners, entrepreneurs and farmers) into a room with our clients, not only do we understand their business because we do but also because we are. This model, after 46 years of practice, is one we believe in replicating.
Since we’re talking dairy today, let’s look at the year 2020 so far. March came barreling in and dairy surplus hit an all-time high when COVID-19 took a toll on product demand and challenged our supply chain. Farmers were being asked (and sometimes even told) to dump milk because supply far exceeded demand. It was an industry in crisis, though it’s on the road to recovery. Despite all this food banks never stopped needing milk — it is one of the most requested yet least donated items. To help change this narrative, we helped Zoetis create a cause-marketing campaign, #DearDairy. We’re asked people to celebrate June Dairy Month this year by visiting DearDairyLetters.com and share a letter of appreciation to a person, place or thing in the dairy industry. Letters will be matched with donations to The Great American Milk Drive, a Feeding America initiative to provide food banks with milk. This initiative shines a positive light on the dairy farmer and milk specifically, at a time when the industry needs it most.
I sent in my thank you-letter, and I had a lot to say
My childhood, personal passions and career journeys that have brought me to where I am now all have made June a month that is so incredibly special to me. Simply put, I owe my career to dairy cows. They put me through college, in fact. There is a lot to learn from them. In the second part of this series, I will share the five things all marketers can learn from a dairy cow.
About the Author
A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the BR Business Consultancy Group. His eclectic group includes MBAs, a former CMO from an entrepreneurial investment group, a veterinarian and the former commercial operations leader for a multi-billion-dollar business unit of a Fortune 500 company. The BR Business Consultancy Group consults with both inline and specialty clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups in food & beverage, agribusiness and pet care.