Scotts Miracle-Gro Taps Barton F. Graf 9000 As New Agency

Shop Wins Overall Account For Lawn And Garden Marketer After Project Work

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Dead Mouse Theatre
Dead Mouse Theatre

Looking for a new business tool? You might want to try dead mice.

That worked for Barton F. Graf 9000, which has just nabbed the full account for Scotts Miracle-Gro, the $2.8 billion lawn and garden products marketer. The agency had already worked with Marysville, Oh.-based Scotts on its Nature Care line of products and its rodent control product Tomcat, for which the agency created "Tomcat's Dead Mouse Theater."

"This is how it's supposed to work, right?" said Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer at Barton F. Graf 9000. "You meet a like-minded client, they give you a shot at some smaller projects, you create great work that sells lots of product, and they trust you enough to take on their biggest brands."

Richards Group, Dallas, Texas, previously handled Scotts' brand development and creative in addition to digital strategy, digital creative and social strategy, the agency confirmed, and was responsible for current work across the company. It no longer is handling any of the Scotts Miracle-Gro business.

"Our work for Scotts was successful in the marketplace and moved the brand forward," said Richards Group Principal Scott Crockett. "We wish them well in their future efforts."

Barton F. Graf solves problems for clients in creative ways, making this partnership that much more of an exciting opportunity for Scotts Miracle-Gro," said Josh Peoples, VP-general manager of lawns at Scotts. "Their creativity and forward-thinking approach will help expand our consumer reach and together we will deliver innovative campaigns across all our brands."

Mediahub, a unit of Interpublic's Mullen, succeeded WPP's MEC as media agency on Scotts earlier this year following a review.

Scotts Miracle-Gro spent $144 million on advertising last year, according to its 10-K filing. Despite a hard winter and late spring for much of the country, consumer sales were up 5% for the first half of the company's fiscal year, Chairman-CEO Jim Hagedorn said on a May earnings call.

"New products are working. New advertising messages are working. New promotion of programs with our retailers are working, and our acquisitions are working," Mr. Hagedorn said in an upbeat note. For the colorful and outspoken CEO, that was seemingly high praise. In a December 2012 talk with analysts, Mr. Hagedorn said: "If it got to the point where advertising didn't mean shit, then I guess we'll say 'then don't waste the money.' But I don't think that's where we're at."

That said, last year's ad spending was down 15% from 2012, and fell a full point as a percentage of sales to 5.1% the past two years from 6.1% in 2012, when Mr. Hagedorn made the comment.

In one of those new products Mr. Hagedorn mentioned, the company teamed with another of packaged-goods' more colorful CEOs, Church & Dwight Co.'s soon-to-depart boss Jim Craigie, to launch Scotts Outdoor Cleaner with Oxi Clean.

Creative for the flagship Scotts brand since 2012 has prominently featured Scottish character actor Phil McKee as Scott, with his trademark line: "Feed you lawn. Feed it."

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