Diary of an Award-Winning Ad Campaign

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Awards

Gardner Award Best Copywriting for a Display Ad – Commercial Publications


Please describe your project.

The project was a full-page ad for my client, Sod Production Services, and their product, Tahoma 31 Bermuda. This grass, developed by Oklahoma State University, is the most cold-tolerant bermudagrass on the market, but it also has a long list of features and benefits. The ad depicts a Swiss Army Knife transformed from its traditional red into Tahoma 31’s blue brand color. The knife has the Tahoma 31 logo engraved on it. Arrows radiating from the extended arms of the knife point to short subheads that name each of the product benefits and short descriptions of those benefits. To bring it all together, the headline of the ad says: Like This, But in a Bermudagrass.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

The main objective in developing this ad campaign was to quickly and succinctly convey that the product has many benefits without getting bogged down in a long bulleted list. I also wanted the ad’s target audience (sports turf managers, golf course superintendents, golf course owners and builders, and other related turf industry pros) to understand that the grass could be a tool to help them overcome challenges like cold, drought and wear. Additionally, the product’s main competitor focuses on just one attribute (drought tolerance) in their ads. I also wanted to show that Tahoma 31 could handle drought and much more.

What influenced your approach?

Influencing my approach was the desire to draw a straight line from the usefulness of a Swiss Army Knife to the usefulness of the grass as a tool, not just a turf, that solves problems and helps turfgrass managers overcome challenges. I wanted to speak to the issues they face and offer a solution to those issues. Once I came up with the campaign idea, the next step was to order replicas of the knife to give out at trade shows. This made the campaign jump right off the page and into the hands of potential customers. It’s been highly effective.

What do you think stood out in your winning entry?

The writing was crisp and to the point. The reader doesn’t have to wade through long blocks of text. They can glance at the ad and get it immediately. I compared my client’s product to an iconic brand that everyone knows and the comparison strengthens the message.

Reprinted from TOCA Talk, Spring 2023 issue