The Great Grain Debate
Grains Research & Development Corporation
Macquarie Radio Network, Fairfax Media & News Corp
The grain farming industry has one of the most advanced R&D divisions in the world, the Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC): a statutory corporation that reports into the Department of Agriculture. Currently 22,000 grain farmers pay a levy to the GRDC but most are oblivious to what it does. The challenge was to get the attention of farmers and government to raise awareness of the issues facing the industry and highlight how the GRDC supports farm productivity through innovation.
The strategy was to build from the insight that the GRDC produced reports for corporate governance but hadn’t previously spoken to farmers in the channels or language they used. The campaign aimed to start ‘The Great Grain Debate’ to get farmers and the government talking about the importance of grains and therefore, the importance of the GRDC. To target farmers, the campaign used the three arms of Fairfax Media: metro, agricultural and Macquarie Radio Network. Radio host Alan Jones chaired town hall events throughout regional Australia allowing farmers to voice concerns and allowing GRDC to join in the conversation. Content from these events in the form of news, video and podcasts were produced, to further awareness. Farming website The Land built a dedicated hub to house stories of farmers
using the GRCD’s innovations, while the AFR ran a series of agribusiness special reports to further push the GRDC’s story on innovation. To build awareness of the GRDC’s efforts in government circles, News Corp Australia was enlisted to ensure GRDC was part of the Global Food Forum, speaking on the impact of technology on productivity.
As a result of the campaign, a debate in the Senate about GRDC funding was sparked and more than $3 million in earned media was generated. The Fairfax partnership produced 123 pieces of content: 52 editorial stories, 44 articles, a 16−page special report, eight case studies and three industry insight reports. Alan Jones’ broadcasts were listened to by 9.9 million people over a seven−week period. Google searches for GRDC reached an all−time high during the campaign run, with website traffic doubling from 30,000 in November to 56,000 in April; a figure two and a half times more than the number of grain farmers in Australia.
“A well thought out strategic approach that was then implemented in an engaging and unique way in the B2B category with results directly attributed to the campaign activity.”