Cannes Lions

The Farm Must Go On by John Deere

DEERE & CO, Moline / JOHN DEERE / 2021

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John Deere and American farmers have been tied together since Deere invented the steel plow in 1837. The brand is beloved by the Gen X and Baby Boomer farmers who make up its core consumers, many of whom were proudly raised in “Green Tractor'' families.

But American farmers are rapidly aging, and ever-tighter profit margins make it harder to stay afloat. Farmers have an average of only 20-30 days to harvest their crops, meaning that just one setback can put them out of business.

Amidst the backdrop of COVID-19 and research indicating that 70% of farmers worried about their farm’s profitability, Deere wanted to develop a brand purpose activation that could raise awareness of issues facing family farms and demonstrate its commitment to help.

Objectives: Raise funds for Farm Rescue to enable 1,000 hours of volunteer support; increase brand favorability for John Deere by 5%


As COVID-19 accelerated the many challenges farmers face, John Deere wanted to help. Dollars alone couldn’t save farms in need of urgent help harvesting and planting for the next season. We needed to do more than raise dollars -- we needed to raise hands.

So we partnered with Farm Rescue, a non-profit that helps farmers and ranchers in crisis by providing manpower and equipment to plant, hay, or harvest crops. To raise awareness and dollars to support increased assistance, we leveraged one element of pop culture that American farmers resoundingly love because it tells their story: Country Music.

Our activation, The Farm Must Go On, was a 2-hr live streaming concert featuring country music stars Dustin Lynch, Maddie & Tae, Mickey Guyton, Travis Denning, and Tyler Farr. Throughout the live stream, we featured stories from farmers supported by Farm Rescue to show the importance and impact of the partnership.


Our activation sought to target young, next-generation farmers and their families. While these farmers are celebrated for their resilience in navigating the uncertainty that comes from working with nature, there’s no backup plan for when they face an emergency and can’t do the work. Through our activation, we sought to show young farmers that Deere is a brand that’s empathetic to their problems and lived reality and that it’s making real moves to help.

Anchored by the insight that even in a pandemic you can’t push pause on a farm, our direction aimed to have country music artists amplify the voices of farmers in need through music. Thus, “The Farm Must Go On” put a country twang on the adage “The Show Must Go On.”


With just four months to plan, we implemented a holistic approach to reach key stakeholders via earned, owned, social, and paid media. By incorporating stories of families whose farms were close to collapse throughout the pandemic, we were able to portray the life-changing impact of Farm Rescue volunteers. We leveraged concert artists, social influencers, and celebrities who personally championed the brand and cause to educate audiences on the huge impact of a nominal donation.

Collaborating with YouTube and Instagram agricultural influencers generated excitement and helped drive donations. Artists promoted a meet and greet sweepstakes and curated content that complemented our storylines. A paid strategy across the channels most frequented by our target audience was executed to increase awareness and drive tune-in specifically among country music fans in the agriculture community.

Performed live from the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville, the event was simulcast to YouTube and later made available on demand.


Donations from the benefit concert will fund more than 3,000 days (or more than 8 years!) of volunteer support for farmers in crisis. In just 24 hours, our partner Farm Rescue saw a 300%+ increase in monthly volunteer applications, their first-ever $50,000 annual donor commitment, and a 75% increase in Google Searches.

Our activation also drove significant impact for the John Deere brand:

* 9% increase in brand favorability among the Next Gen audience

* 10% increase in overall trust

* 2.6MM concert video views

* 923M earned media impressions

* 500K+ live stream impressions

* Hundreds of earned media placements including Associated Press, Rolling Stone,, Billboard Magazine,, Cheddar, AgDaily, Southern Living, Quad-City Times, and Country Insider

Finally, “Thank You” was the most frequent YouTube comment, further underscoring the timeliness and importance of the event.

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