For 24 years, Floral Management has held a contest to identify exceptionally clever and successful campaigns. The winner, dubbed Marketer of the Year, receives $5,000, a cover story and (typically) much fanfare at the Society of American Florists’ annual convention. (Thanks again, Irma!)
This year, SAF announced the winner, American Grown Flowers, via a Facebook Live presentation. Florist 2.0 would like to piggyback on that presentation. Here’s our conversation with American Grown spokesperson, Kasey Cronquist.
F20: You won for your Field to Vase dinner tour. For those who’ve been unable to attend one, how would you describe the atmosphere?
KC: It’s a pop up dinner at one of the most beautiful farms in the country. The meal, provided a local chef, is gourmet and features local ingredients. Flowers, though, definitely center stage. There are amazing arrangements all along the table.
We keep the program pretty light. The farmer gives a brief tour of his property. The featured designer gets an opportunity to share techniques or his or her passion for floral design. Then we invite people to sit down and I introduce myself and the purpose of American Grown Flowers. The chef gives a rundown of the menu, then we let them enjoy the food, conversations with one another, and the rarefied air.
F20: Where did the idea come from?
KC: When we launched the American Grown brand in 2014, we knew for it to take off and get awareness, we needed to a campaign tied to it. The California Cut Flower Commission has hosted open house events, where the public and the press can come see what our farms are all about. We did an exclusive dinner in a greenhouse for journalists once and it got an amazing response. It got us thinking about the popularity of farm-to-fork dinners and how we could do that concept but put the focus on flowers. It would promote our cause and could pay for itself.
We proposed a plan and quickly got approval from American Grown Flowers and CCFC (which is essentially an underwriter). Lots of other sponsors followed, including Syndicate Sales, Mellano & Company, Ball Horticultural Company, Mayesh Wholesale, Corona Tools, DVFlora, Florists’ Review, and Super Floral.
F20: How many places has the Field to Vase tour gone?
KC: In augural year, we went to 10 spots, starting with Carpinteria, California–pretty much headquarters for flower production in the U.S.–and ending at The Flower House in Detroit. In 2016, we went to 7 farms and we’re scheduled to do the same this year, ending at FernTrust, David and Jana Register’s property in Seville, Florida in November. Most of these dinners have sold out.
F20: What’s the selection process like?
KC: We start by looking at farms that are part of our certification program. We also have an online application for interested hosts (and designers) and we’re soliciting consumer input on social media. We aim for geographic diversity. It’s been an amazing opportunity to see what’s going on at farms in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Alaska. Crisscrossing the country, it’s become clear the connection farmers share. The challenges and opportunities are the same. We’re all in this together.
F20: What inspired you to enter Floral Management’s Marketer of the Year contest?
KC: Diana Roy, chairwoman of the CCFC, recommended it. She said it was a prominent and successful campaign and thought it’d be a shoe-in. My initial response was that I thought we were ineligible. I had in mind a retail flower shop. That’s who I’ve seen win in past years. At Diana’s urging I called SAF’s Kate Penn to ask if it was open to anyone in the industry and she said “Of course!” At that point, my gut told me we had a pretty good shot at winning. This campaign has all the right pieces. It sells out early. It’s had a lot of attention with the national media. It’s produced tons of gorgeous visual materials for future marketing efforts. And it has a ton of momentum.
F20: What are your future goals with the campaign?
KC: I’d like it to go as many farms as possible. The more places we go, the greater our brand awareness. Ultimately, I’d like to see the American Grown label in stores all across the country.