Best & Brightest Media Strategists: Steve Thomas

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When Steve Thomas crafted a relaunch campaign this year for Bayer Environmental Science's TopChoice, a fire ant-repellant product, he recommended to his client what he thought would be the perfect pitch. As the centerpiece of the campaign, TopChoice bought several sponsorships with local minor league baseball teams and created interactive events for dealers and consumers alike.

A tarp that read, "TopChoice Fireant Control. One Strike and They're Out," covered the pitcher's mound during pregame festivities. Before the start of the game, the tarp was removed in a ceremony attended by local TopChoice dealers, who were also given elements of the sponsorship to tailor for their own marketing uses.

To enhance the campaign, Thomas purchased ad space in selected trade titles as well as spot TV. The strategy paid off: Sales of TopChoice increased an average of 15% in markets where the strategy was implemented.

"It was a push-pull strategy," Thomas said. "The lines between b-to-b and b-to-c advertising are blurring continuously. It's not in everything we do, but [in some campaigns] we cross paths that target the business by targeting the consumer."

Thomas used this concept again for Deramaxx, a pain medication for dogs that is marketed to veterinarians by Novartis Animal Health. Following a launch year, the client had some concerns about new competitors and wanted to keep Deramaxx front and center on vets' radar.

The marketing strategy included two separate direct mailings that played off the product's tagline, "It makes the difference." The first was a package of jelly beans-all white with one blue Deramaxx-branded jelly bean on top-and the second was a box of cookies with one unique Deramaxx cookie.

To supplement the mailings, Thomas included high-impact print ads in several veterinary trade titles. Some of the units included a polybagged dog Frisbee printed with specific product messaging.

-Matthew Schwartz

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