Grower Andy Boy Plants A Seed In Paid Media To Market Broccoli Rabe

AndyBoyIf you hail from the northeastern United States, you’re probably accustomed to the slightly bitter bite of broccoli rabe common in many Italian dishes.

It’s the population beyond New York and other big cities – as well as health-conscious millennials – to whom Salinas, Calif., grower Andy Boy wanted to appeal.

But Andy Boy had one problem.

“We’re really good farmers, but we weren’t really good at marketing,” said Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, marketing and culinary manager for D’Arrigo Bros. Co., of CA, the family-run business behind the broccoli rabe brand. “We’ve been in the business for 96 years and the Andy Boy name is well known. But we’d never really done a marketing campaign before.”

Andy Boy has kicked off its first this week. Working with the agency Jugular, the campaign includes 30-second video ads on YouTube and Hulu featuring chef Candice Kumai, as well as specialty recipe integrations with social influencers.

The grower is among a select handful of farmers in the US who are “vertically integrated,” meaning they own the land they farm on and hold a patent on a proprietary broccoli rabe seed that the company keeps in a fireproof vault, according to Pizarro-Villalobos. (D’Arrigo Bros. keeps two Ph.D. scientists on staff year-round to develop its seed.)

Andy Boy takes broccoli rabe seriously and, because it does, this translated into marketing its brand – or, more accurately, product – persona.

“We wanted people to feel like they were dealing with a vegetable persona rather than a brand,” said Erin Lackey, creative director for Jugular. “The challenge is, you’re competing with the kales of the world that everyone knows, so every integration we did on social pages was lightly branded with broccoli rabe or ‘eat broccoli rabe,’” as opposed to pushing the Andy Boy name.”

Andy’s 30-second spot features Kumai kickboxing and cycling (and chopping up broccoli rabe post-workout, of course) with the messaging that “green is broccoli rabe.”

Lackey said targeting the spot on YouTube made sense to reach a younger millennial audience, but the brand also wanted to reach a slightly older set on Hulu who may be into “Top Chef” or other epicurean programming.

“We can target really, really efficiently on Hulu,” she said. “More millennials have dropped their cable service, so it’s becoming a viable way to spend advertising dollars while ensuring you’re reaching the right people.”

Before now, Andy Boy and its parent company’s “paid media” budget mostly consisted of POS promotional material it would pass out at trade shows. It did not have an audience or data management platform. If its current campaign performs well, Pizarro-Villalobos said it would consider national media placements.

Since Andy Boy sells vegetables and not apparel, where there are virtually limitless SKUs, Pizarro-Villalobos said internal marketing sits in close collaboration with all aspects of the business including production and shipping.

“As we begin our marketing campaign, we’re challenging our sales and production teams to say, ‘What else can we do?’” she said. “We have an 11-ounce, triple-washed/pre-chopped broccoli rabe bag. If it’s Thanksgiving, I’ll probably get the bunch, but for everyday [convenience] I want the bag.”

A few months ago, D’Arrigo also launched organic broccoli rabe, so Pizarro-Villalobos expects this new campaign to elevate all aspects of the company’s go-to-market plan on the product side.

The next phase of the campaign will include ramping up content/recipe integrations with social influencers as it pertains to season.

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