SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Farm equipment company aims straight for heartland through deals with Learfield schools

When farmers are working in the field on Saturday afternoons in the fall, Roy Seinfeld would like to think that they’re listening to a college football game. Case IH, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tractors and other farming equipment, is betting that they are.

“We want to be able to take the message out to where the farmers live and work,” said Seinfeld, the executive vice president of national sales for Learfield Sports.

Case IH’s Red Zone platform will run at football programs at 19 schools, including Iowa State.
Photo by: LEARFIELD SPORTS
Learfield represents the multimedia rights to close to 50 universities, and many of them are based in the heartland, where Case IH wants to take its message and appeal to — and reach — farmers.

That’s why Case IH, with 4,900 dealers and distributors in 160 countries, has developed a portfolio of sponsorships with 19 Learfield schools. In the last month, Case IH has struck sponsorships with North Carolina State and Southern Illinois, to go with deals that include Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Wisconsin, among others.

Case IH’s first college sponsorship was bought in 2006 at Kansas State and the company has worked with Learfield to gradually build its portfolio of schools since.

“It’s invaluable for us to be embedded with teams our customers care about,” said Kyle Russell, senior director of marketing for Case IH.

Case IH and Learfield have worked to create a “red zone” platform that will work across each of the 19 football-playing schools.

Case IH makes its farming equipment in red only, which lends itself to the red zone concept. Each time the home team moves inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, the Case IH Red Zone advertising appears on the video board, LED ribbon boards, and any other digital space available.

It also has a hefty advertising buy across the radio airwaves, and each red zone appearance by the home team merits a mention on the broadcast.

Learfield complements the Red Zone blast with Case IH ads in game programs and other signs around the stadium. While this started out as a football play, Case IH now advertises with four schools in basketball.

It’s the kind of integrated program that Seinfeld holds up as a standard for his national sales team.

“It seems pretty simplistic, but often we don’t link all of these concepts together,” Seinfeld said. “It’s like Allstate with the field goal nets and Case IH with the Red Zone. That’s the kind of thing that makes platforms sticky. With national sales, that’s what we’re trying to do — find creative tie-ins that hook a client and then continue to grow with the client.”
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