When HZ brings on new clients, we really get to know them. And I don’t mean just their teams’ bios or general information on the products the companies offer. I mean we dig in deep with our clients to really understand their needs, challenges and goals so that we can tailor our efforts and help drive their business forward. We look to understand: What their brand is about? What do they represent? What are they trying to do? What are their business goals?
So, when Organic Valley selected HZ as their agency partner for revamping their website, we were thrilled. We dove right in and kicked things off with a full 2-day discovery session, immersing ourselves in everything Organic Valley. And needless to say, fun things happen when you let 7 HZers out of the Rockville office for the day and send them to the farms of La Farge, Wisconsin.
We arrived in Madison on Sunday evening and made the drive out to La Farge, with the windows down and the Willie’s Roadhouse station blasting on the radio. As DCers, we’re used to long drives, but they’re usually laden with traffic, honking horns, and exhaust. Needless to say, the sunset view we had of the rolling farmland on our way out to La Farge was a welcome change and a wonderful introduction to a different way of life.
We awoke with the roosters (ok, maybe not quite that early) and set off to start our Discovery Session at Organic Valley’s headquarters. We were all so excited to start that we blew through introductions and dove right into the good stuff.
Our partners at Organic Valley walked us through the state of their business, educated us on the history of their brand, gave us a thorough understanding of their goals, and talked to us about the challenges they’re facing both internally and within the marketplace. They also gave us a full download on their farming requirements and all things organic.
As a brand that grew out of CROPP cooperative, we learned that Organic Valley is an anomaly when it comes to big dairy companies. CROPP created its own pasturing standards in the 1990s and served as advocates for establishing national standards for years. In 2010, the USDA leveraged CROPP’s expertise to help set the U.S. standards, which require cows to receive 30% of their diet from pasture.
But that wasn’t good enough for Organic Valley. The company and its farmers continue to see the benefits of pasture diets and—on average—Organic Valley cows receive 60% of their diets from pastures. Which means the consumers really do get the best organic products and the cows really are happy. They also continue to blaze new trails by bringing innovative organic farming practices to the forefront so that farmers can garner living wages and farming practices are focused on a sustainable future.
We asked a lot of questions to get to the crux of what they need and where they want to go. The conversations were in-depth, detailed, and very open on both sides, leading to very collaborative work sessions and setting a strong foundation for our partnership moving forward.
When the clients took us on a tour of their offices, we had a chance to see firsthand the brand’s deep commitment to its employees and farmers. The facility is beautiful and showcases the brand’s individuality, belief in the organic lifestyle, and strong roots in the farming community. These guys don’t just walk the walk, they talk the talk. There’s a community garden where team members can grow their own veggies, a fully organic cafeteria serving delicious and nutritious food, a state-of-the-art gym to help folks stay in shape, and a team dedicated to helping farmers with just about anything they could need—just to name a few things.
Then, drinks, dinner, and socializing ensued!
Our morning was filled with sessions about the Organic Valley brand and then a further understanding of the CROPP Cooperative’s mission. Our afternoon was filled with farm tour fun! Our clients took us out to one of the 1,800+ Organic Valley farms, where we learned all about how organic farming works, what it’s like to operate an organic vs. conventional farm, and we met some pretty cool cows.
Did you know that cows pick through the different grasses in a field and only eat what tastes good (or plants that have the nutrients they need)? Or that it takes 3 minutes to milk a cow and that they’re milked twice a day? I sure didn’t. What about the fact that some cows call “shotgun” on stalls in the barn and they’ll make another cow move if she’s in the way? Sounds like a permanent dibs situation if you ask me. We learned that milk from the farm is picked up every other day and that the cows make enough to fill this giant container.
We also heard firsthand from the farmer why organic farming is important for the animals and how the focus on sustainability truly impacts the land. Before this, I never really realized that organic means so much more than just less chemicals and better for you. Now I know that it’s a way of life that helps ensure that the animals, farmers, and land that make the milk we drink are taken care of. It means the animals are cared for responsibly, the farmers are paid fairly, and the land is kept intact for future generations. I promptly went home and loaded up my fridge with more Organic Valley milk and cheese than I could carry!
Our Discovery Session really was a one-of-a-kind way to get to know our clients, the Organic Valley brand, and a whole lot more about the organic lifestyle. Welcome to the HZ Family Organic Valley. We’re proud to partner with you!