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John Deere Uses Social Media to Feed the Hungry (Nov 15, 2011)
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John Deere is one of the most iconic American brands there is. The green and yellow logo is known by most whether you grew up in the country or the city. It’s just one of those brands that gets noticed and remembered. Of course, in the Silicon Valleyized world of social media it’s hard to imagine that a company more known for its reputation with farmers is taking advantage of the online space.

The company is relatively new to the social media realm but they have come up with a unique way to promote their brand, do something very different and, ultimately feed people who are struggling. It’s called Project Can Do and the company will be constructing a model of a John Deere combine using canned food. While that is certainly different, the end game is that about 300,000 cans of food which will then be used to help stock the River Bend Foodbank in Moline, IL.

We conducted an e-mail interview with Nicole Schneider, project manager, communications for John Deere Agriculture & Turf, and Richard Williamson, project manager, art director, John Deere Agriculture & Turf. They are the Project “CAN DO” leaders.

How long has this idea been in planning?

The idea was generated through a brainstorm around the launch of the new John Deere S-Series Combines in earlier 2011. Coming out of ideation, we realized that this was an opportunity to do much more than promote new equipment; it was a chance to celebrate the important role of the farmer to help meet global food demands and to give back to the community. Celebrating the relationship between us, the farmer, the land, and the community.

What people in the organizations are responsible for various aspects of the project?

We have the responsibility and are supported by many internal and external champions – including more than 450 volunteers – all helping to make this full-sized combine structure come to life.

How are you measuring success from the business side of this?

The primary goal of John Deere Project “CAN DO”is to raise awareness for the essential role farmers and ranchers play in producing safe, healthy and abundant food for a growing world population. It’s also a way to generate awareness around hunger and the need to support food banks especially during the holiday season. User engagement is a big part of the campaign. We want fans to create a virtual can and help John Deere donate over 300,000 cans of food to a local food bank. We designed the tab to allow fans to engage in multiple ways. In additon to the “design a can app”, fans can watch live video feeds of the build, view photos, learn about the farmer, get to know the combine, share posts and tweet about all of it. We’re encouraged by the conversations and support we’re seeing surrounding this campaign – it’s become the new coffee shop.

Of course, we’re also excited to break a Guinness World Record for “the world’s largest canned food sculpture.”

Are John Deere dealers involved in the promotion of this and if so, how?

John Deere dealers are encouraged to show their support for Project “CAN DO” through involvement in their own communities and through the John Deere Facebook page, but are not directly involved with the program.

How long has John Deere been utilizing social media for brand activities like this?

John Deere as an enterprise has had an active social media presence for more than a year. This is the first campaign of its kind for Deere.

Based on your target market which social media tools works the best and why?

Our agriculture users are very active on Facebook and we are always looking at reaching and engaging our customers in new ways.

Are there other projects like this set for the future?

We will be evaluating all social mediums for future campaigns.

Are there other corporate partners that are involved?

We are more than grateful for the support and enthusiasm we’ve received from the architectural firm RTKL Associates, HyVee and Canstruction throughout this project.

How is the town of Moline responding?

We’re anticipating a growing excitement and buzz as the sculpture is built this week and revealed on November 17. You can check out the build on our live steaming video.

Thank you to the folks of John Deere for sharing their social media efforts with is. You can participate in the the project by going to the John Deere Facebook page and creating your own can. Your few minutes of time will help feed those in need. Not a bad way to start the week huh?

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