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Greenlight Digital promotes UK farm campaign

  Article , Success stories

Microsoft Audience Ads help feed a nation

A shortage of farm labor

pick for the people campaign graphic

Greenlight Digital produced a unique set of creative designs reminiscent of WWI poster designs.

For years, fruit and vegetable farmers in the UK had relied on tens of thousands of workers to come from overseas each season to pick millions of tons of produce. But, in March 2020, the region faced a huge shortage in seasonal labor because travel restrictions due to the coronavirus were keeping workers away.

The farmers feared their crops were going to be lost if they couldn’t recruit help. They needed 90,000 workers to harvest the produce in the spring and summer — before the food went to waste in the fields.

At Greenlight, we value the Microsoft Advertising platform for the innovative ways it helps clients reach new customers and grow their businesses, as well as the responsiveness of the Microsoft Advertising team in helping us respond during this very challenging time.

— Matt Garbutt, Creative Director, Greenlight Digital

Feeding the nation

pick for the people campaign graphic lettuce version
 

To help address the labor shortage and get the food to market, several farming associations collaborated to recruit locals for a modern-day “land army.” As part of this “Feed the Nation” campaign, they sought out students as well as people who had been furloughed or lost their jobs because of the coronavirus.

Greenlight Digital wanted to help with the recruitment drive. When employees read about the farmers’ struggles in the news, they were motivated and offered to volunteer their creative and marketing expertise. “We started to contact these associations to say, ‘Hey guys, do you want any help with an awareness campaign?’” says Matt Garbutt, creative director at Greenlight Digital. “We felt like we could do something about it, even if organically just to raise a bit of awareness.”

A full-service digital and commerce agency founded in 2001, Greenlight Digital is built on the twin practices of data and creativity to provide digital marketing, website build, data science, creative and other services to help brands delight their customers and reach new audiences. In 2019, the London-based company of 170 people was recognized for its innovation when it was named Growth Hacker of the Year at the Microsoft Advertising Regional Partner Awards.

For the “Feed the Nation” campaign, employees were inspired by World War II posters that mobilized citizens to support the war effort. Those posters encouraged people to “Dig for Victory” by growing fruit and vegetables in their gardens and becoming part of a land army to pick crops. “Our idea was to bring those posters into the modern day,” Garbutt says. “We used a similar headline, which started as ‘Pick for the People.’”

Marta Colmenero, senior digital designer at Greenlight Digital, used the World War II posters as the basis for a colorful poster that encouraged people to harvest apples, asking “Can you help?” The agency then promoted it on organic search and social media.

In April 2020, the British government got involved to centralize and promote the campaign, building a microsite where people could sign up to work and renaming the campaign “Pick for Britain.” That program includes the National Farmers Union; Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board; Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; Association of Labour Providers; and British Growers.

As Greenlight Digital continued to help with the campaign, it created posters for strawberries and lettuce, adopting the new “Pick for Britain” slogan. The organic and social traffic drove visitors to the new microsite. The campaign has led to the hiring of a range of workers, from students to carpenters and chefs.

Getting impressions with Microsoft Audience Ads

In early June 2020, the agency turned to Microsoft Advertising and began promoting the campaign with Microsoft Audience Ads, taking advantage of the image-based ad format to showcase the “Pick for Britain” posters. These native ads appear on premium sites, including MSN, Outlook.com, Microsoft Edge and partner sites, blending naturally into consumers' experiences.

In one week, the ads garnered 150,000 impressions. Greenlight Digital was thrilled with the results and extended their plans to create more posters and continue with more advertising. “We’re going to keep on banging the drum,” Garbutt says.

Support in challenging times

pick for the people campaign graphic strawberry version
 

The same creativity and agility that drove the “Feed the Nation” project also helped the agency serve its clients during the challenging coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve done what we do best, which is to be nimble and flexible for our clients,” says Hannah Kimuyu, paid media director at Greenlight Digital. The agency worked with clients to update their websites with messaging about how they were responding to the coronavirus. Depending on the clients, Greenlight Digital also created strategies to help them either draw more revenue or manage an increase in demand. “We’ll give them options and just be prepared to allow those flexibilities to do what’s necessary, so their businesses can thrive,” Kimuyu says. “It’s not thinking too much for the short term but thinking about how we continue the long-term partnerships that we have with our clients.”

The partnership with Microsoft has also been important in helping Greenlight Digital promote its clients’ businesses and share insights to aid them in making decisions. “It’s really been a pleasure working with the [Microsoft Advertising] team that we have,” Kimuyu says. “What always works well for Greenlight because we are an inquisitive agency and think ‘best practice’ means doing the bare minimum — we’re rebels at heart — is truly understanding our business and our clients. If you get that, then the partnership works really well.” Kimuyu added, “It’s been a very fruitful relationship working with Microsoft Advertising in the last few years.”

Garbutt agrees: “At Greenlight, we value the Microsoft Advertising platform for the innovative ways it helps clients reach new customers and grow their businesses, as well as the responsiveness of the Microsoft Advertising team in helping us respond during this very challenging time."

If you’d like help getting started with Microsoft Advertising, please contact us.

It’s been a very fruitful relationship working with Microsoft Advertising in the last few years.

— Hannah Kimuyu, Paid Media Director, Greenlight Digital