Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gardening: It’s Not Your Mother’s Pastime

Kudos to Scotts Miracle-Gro. I’d read about the company’s new advertising campaign aimed at attracting new gardeners, but I hadn’t seen any of the TV commercials until last night. I was sitting on the couch checking e-mail with the TV on for background noise when the song, “You Sexy Thing” (I believe In Miracles) caught my attention. Without realizing it, I started tapping my foot (and singing along a little bit. I’m not too proud to admit it.) I looked up at the TV to see what was going on.

So, what was going on? An attractive Gen X couple (the casting was no accident, I’m sure) was gallivanting around their proliferously blooming front yard, laughing and smiling, thanks, of course, to Scotts Miracle-Gro.

The ad caught my attention. Unlike the company’s past advertisements, this one focuses on the end product – the enjoyment you get out of having a beautiful garden. It’s not so much geared toward the already avid gardener. This ad says, “See, gardening’s awesome, right? Why not try it?”

I know at least one person disagrees with me, though. I came across this article on Brand Week’s Web site. The anonymous writer had this to say about one of the commercials: “The casting, the car, the house and all the minor elements of the spot are a direct lift from the research and jammed into a 30-second spot—which is why it all feels so labored.”

The writer goes even further: “The line in the middle of the spot, ‘Time to feed your dreams,’ triggers a weedier problem for me. Aside from being a cliché, its timing is exceptionally poor. These days, for so many people, the American dream of homeownership is turning into a nightmare. Something about the contrived joy in this spot makes me imagine that maybe this couple's adjustable-rate mortgage just kicked in, they can't afford the payments anymore and now they're desperately trying to create curb appeal and sell the house before they go upside-down.”

Maybe this person is looking a little more deeply into the message than I am. Or maybe I’m just less of a cynic. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see if the ads do anything for Scotts, and in turn, for our industry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Miss This: A Glimpse Into The May Issue Of TGC

While I hope you'll read the May issue of Today's Garden Center cover to cover, I understand you have a thing or two going on this time of year and might be a little pressed for time. At any rate, here are just a few highlights I hope you'll have a chance to check out this month:

          Chris and Kim Carter, owners of Nobles Greenhouse And Nursery in Live Oak, Fla., transformed their business with upgrades that helped shift their customer base, resulting in the ability to sell more high-end, profitable merchandise.
          Chris and Kim are two very dynamic people with an inspirational story. And I'm not just saying that because my boss wrote the article. The Carters' philosophies on customer service are like a consumer's dream come true. I wish I could shop there!

            In his story on marketing to women, freelance writer Ross Shafer poses the question, "Are you relevant to women?" I especially enjoyed some of Shafer's article subheads, like "Women Complain For A Reason" and "Offend Women And Die." He pretty much hits the nail on the head with his sidebar on "how to get into a woman's wallet," too, in which he advises retailers to think like a woman and behave like a woman, be emotional and avoid sucking up to women.

          A garden center makeover can go far beyond a new logo and different company colors. Marketing consultant and TGC contributing writer Bob LaRue provides an update on the progress of Stauffers Of Kissel Hill's brand makeover, which began back in 2006. It's amazing what can happen to a business when a few people with a few good ideas put their heads together.

          "So Much Is Given. So Little Is Asked."

          If you visit the Tree Jewelry Web site, you'll feel immediately guilty. The first words you see are, "So much is given. So little is asked."

          What are they taking about? Trees, of course. Your trees. The ones you've taken for granted all these years. It's time you show them how much you appreciate them. And what better way to do that than with tree jewelry?

          "Surprise that oak, that maple, that honey locust," the Web site urges. "Drape a gleaming stainless steel necklace around your precious."

          The marine hardware beads are fitted on extremely durable marine line, which is touted as lasting forever.

          Check it out. You never know what the next big thing might be.