U.S. Wheat Associates

40th Anniversary Campaign
The Situation

U.S. Wheat Associates is the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry. USW promotes the six U.S. wheat classes to wheat buyers, millers, bakers, food processors and government officials in more than 100 countries worldwide. The mission of USW is to “develop, maintain and expand international markets to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. wheat producers and the value it has for its customers.” 

 USW was comprised of two regional organizations that coordinated the export market. These were the Great Plains Wheat Market Development Association and Western Wheat Associates. In 1980, the two organizations joined forces and became what we now know as U.S. Wheat Associates. 

USW strives to bring simplicity to the complex process of putting American grown wheat in the hands of millers, bakers, and families around the world. But they can’t do it alone. 2020 marks 40 years that USW has been connecting the world through the wheat industry and they wanted to mark the year as a celebratory anniversary for their employees, as well as thank their key stakeholders for making U.S. wheat a staple around the world.

The Approach

When asked how we could help USW celebrate their 40 year anniversary, we first researched the global impact of USW. We found that while U.S. grown wheat is still the safest, highest quality wheat in the world, USW’s differential advantage is the service and support that they provide to those who make food with U.S. grown wheat. In thinking about the anniversary, we realized that this was not only an opportunity to recognize a date, but also an opportunity to recognize the past, contextualize the present and create a vision for a future where all stakeholders of the USW brand are connected to something larger than themselves.

With that research in mind, we set out to create a messaging strategy to engage internal and external audiences, including domestic growers and international buyers, millers and everyone else involved in the wheat value chain. We sought to recognize that, in the midst of an increasingly complex wheat value chain, foreign buyers’ most memorable experiences were the simplistic moments where human connections could form. This insight drove us to choose messaging and creative strategy that showed gratitude, through recognition and celebration, for all the hands that support the wheat value chain. 

Once the strategy was presented, we began creating branding and brand assets. Working with a global audience created the opportunity for these assets to not only recognize connection but to create connections during the 40th anniversary celebration. One approach was to empower foreign office staff and state commissions to reach out to their buyers and state commissions to gather stories about connections made over the past 40 years. These stories were brought to life in video, print, digital and social content. Our second approach recognized the opportunity presented by an international audience. We reached out to the foreign offices and asked USW overseas staff to write “thank you” in the languages used within their service region. These handwritten phrases of gratitude were then included in brand assets, such as print materials and a digital landing page.

The Results

The power of story is in the connections that a story creates and those connections build the lifelong, international relationships on which U.S. wheat farmers rely for export markets. By telling U.S. Wheat Associates’ story in a 40th anniversary campaign, we created an opportunity to express gratitude to people throughout the wheat value chain. Through this act of gratitude, we enabled recognition, which increased pride in performance among employees, generated reciprocity from foreign buyers, all while increasing farmers’ confidence in the value that U.S. Wheat Associates adds to their wheat.