In part one of this article, we discussed the origin of the Smile Squad project for Delta Dental Plans Association – and how what started in concept as an educational card game for children transformed in execution into a much broader platform for delivering oral health education content. In this article, we’ll examine some of the other ways The Meyocks Group team brought the Smile Squad to life.
With viability in mind, we developed rich backstories for all eighteen original characters. This included illustrating a twelve-episode digital comic book adventure to help flesh out the conflict between the heroes and villains.
These adventures added a unique interactive element by interrupting the story when one of the heroes receives a distress call on his or her M.U.G. device (that’s Multi-Use Gadget) – and inviting the reader to help the hero respond. This subtle form of “edutainment” gently quizzed the player – making sure the lessons were coming through while making him or her feel like a part of the adventure.
The Smile Squad Headquarters website hosted the content and formed the hub of the platform. The website also offered children the chance to become further invested in the Smile Squad concept by creating their own heroes based on themselves. These new recruits would be posted on the website for others to see – and a visitor could download a unique printable trading card featuring his or her hero as well.
The site also featured interactive games, art activities, a behind-the-scenes peek at character sketches, video tutorials for the card game and more.
As a company in the business of preventive care, it makes sense for Delta Dental to invest in encouraging positive dental health habits early on knowing there’s a good chance people will develop lifelong good habits as a result.
Meyocks’ approach to developing a content platform follows a similar logic. Invest in its potential. Make the concept work within the chosen mediums, but don’t limit the concept to those mediums.
The Smile Squad concept was a daring approach for a dental insurance company to take – and its creative success is perhaps best measured by the variety of imaginative ideas for extensions that emerged from the initial platform post-launch. By developing a rich reservoir of content upfront, brands can enjoy a concept with the potential to take on a life of its own.Comments
The Delta Dental Plans Association puts oral health education near the top of its “to do” list – and a significant portion of this effort is aimed at children. One typical strategy is to empower parents to teach good oral health habits to their kids. However, Meyocks figured there had to be a better way to make education more engaging for the kids themselves. A brochure wasn’t going to cut it.
Now you’ll probably never hear a kid ask his or her parents, “Do you want to teach me about positive oral health habits and preventive care?” You’re more likely, however, to hear a kid ask, “Do you want to play a game?”
From this insight, The Smile SquadTM was born.
A card game format offered many advantages. From a logistics perspective, playing cards are relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to deliver – whether given out to attendees at sponsored sporting events, dropped in swag-bags at tradeshows or distributed from dentist to patient.
From a content perspective, the format allowed us to break down the many different educational topics we wanted to touch on into distinct bite-size (pun intended) pieces. Plus, the gameplay mechanics could directly reinforce the message by encouraging children to use positive actions to “defeat” negative habits and health conditions.
Knowing children were the primary audience, we decided to draw our inspiration from the superhero genre. And as our team of copywriters and designers dug in and started creating content, we felt like kids in a candy store. (A sugar-free candy store, of course.)
We decided that four main heroes would makeup the Smile Squad team. Each would represent a positive personal habit – brushing, flossing, using fluoride toothpaste and eating right. The heroes would do battle with the Mouth Marauders – a collection of fourteen villains each associated with an unhealthy habit or a symptom of poor oral health. Individual action cards were used to convey more granular information, such as how often to brush, or how much toothpaste to use.
We knew from the beginning, however, that the playable card game was only the first deliverable. A strong concept must live beyond its initial medium – and it was critical that we approach this not as a distinct project, but as a platform for content.
In part two of this article, we’ll examine some of the other ways The Meyocks Group team brought the Smile Squad concept to life.Comments
The Meyocks Group was honored to receive six awards on behalf of its clients at the Region III Best of NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) awards program held in Minneapolis on January 30, 2014. The program recognizes the best work in agricultural marketing and communications among ag businesses and marketing firms in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota – winning entries will move on to national competition. The Meyocks Group has been a long-time supporter of NAMA.
First Place, Spread Ad Series – “Agriculture Works Here Phase II Series”
A series of print ads that focused on the various planks of the FCSAmerica value proposition: its cooperative business model, commitment to serving its customers through both good times and challenging times, and its agricultural expertise.
First Place, Persuasive Writing, “Crop Insurance Economic Impact”
An economic study of the effects that crop insurance payments have beyond the farm gate in supporting rural communities and regional cities throughout the FCSAmerica geography. This study was the basis for a collection of op-ed pieces in daily papers throughout the four-state area.
First Place, Less-than-Page Ad Series – “Cycles”
A series of print ads that ran in several agricultural publications and focused on the lender’s long-term commitment to agriculture. Through the ups and downs of the agricultural economy, Farm Credit East has continued to serve agriculture.
Merit, Single Page Ads – “Best of Times”
A print ad that focused on the lender’s long-term commitment to agriculture. Through the ups and downs of the agricultural economy, Farm Credit East has continued to serve agriculture.
First Place, brochures, catalogs, etc. – “Enrichment Center Brochure”
A communication piece distributed to prospective agri-business donors outlining the benefits and importance of retiring the remaining debt of the FFA enrichment center to achieve the greater mission of the Iowa FFA Foundation and Iowa FFA Association.
First place and merit entries all advance to the national competition. View the complete list of winners.Comments
Since Congress enacted major improvements in the early 2000s, the federal crop insurance program has become American farmers’ preferred risk management tool.
Corn and soybean farmers invest $400 to $700 an acre for land costs and required inputs before the new plants even germinate. For a 500-acre commercial farm, those costs total $200,000 to $350,000 each year. Without crop insurance, there’s no guarantee they will cover those costs and be able to stay in business for another year if disaster strikes.
Our client, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), is an agricultural lender in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming, and recognizes that crop insurance helps customers manage weather and price-related risk. So the financial cooperative has become one of the leading supporters of crop insurance as well.
Target of Criticism
Crop insurance also is a prime target for critics, especially after major weather disasters in back-to-back years – flooding in 2011, and the great drought of 2012 – that brought indemnity payments to record levels. Since the Federal government is looking to reduce the nation’s budget deficits, crop insurance might be a potential choice for cuts.
The discussion about the future of the Federal crop insurance program has focused almost exclusively on the effects on the farm. FCSAmerica knows that indemnity payments can replace at least some of the crop receipts that disappear when disaster strikes, enabling farmers to buy inputs for the next year’s crop. Much of that money flows into rural and regional communities to support Main Street business and local government services. But The Meyocks Group could find no existing studies on the off-farm economic impact of crop insurance payments.
To fill the information void, we proposed that FCSAmerica underwrite a research project by a team of economists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to develop economic impact information for its four-state area, both on and off the farm. Our client agreed.
We wanted to reach two key audiences with the research findings: opinion leaders who help set crop insurance policy, and farm and ranch business operators in FCSAmerica’s territory. To do that, we distributed the project report and supporting materials to agricultural and general media, federal legislators and staffs serving the four-state region, and to non-government agricultural organizations.
One key finding from the study was consistently called out in news coverage: “… (I)ndemnity payments generated off-farm economic impact of nearly $2.2 billion across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. That figure includes $721 million of labor income that preserved 20,900 off-farm jobs in the region.”
The report generated widespread media coverage, including articles in daily and community newspapers and over the airwaves. Key newspapers published op-ed articles. Trade media reported results in articles and blogs.
Finally, the “economic impact/job preservation” finding has been repeated in multiple communications to congressional leaders. The agriculture community has used the report frequently, as these comments from trade and producer organizations suggest:
Hi, there! I’m Erin, and if I would have written this blog post the day I started at The Meyocks Group, I would have been able to say something like, “I’m the newest of the office newbs!” But a month has gone by, and I’ve passed through the steps of agency initiation: winning steaks at the annual holiday raffle, sending an important email with a typo, bringing family photos to the office after multiple co-workers joked about the barren desk and walls of my cube… I’ve been here a month, and even though I still check four kitchen drawers before I can find a fork, I feel like part of The Meyocks Group team.
More specifically, I’m part of the public relations team at Meyocks. One of my first assignments in December was building a media list of “mommy bloggers” to invite to a client event. When I declared public relations major as a Drake University freshman, I don’t think I ever could have imagined the scope (or the fun) of tasks I would take on in the next four years.
That’s right—four years—I’m a second-semester senior. I’ll graduate from Drake in May, and I’ll be honest: I have no clue what’s next. As this is my fifth internship, I’ve got a solid collection of experience and a hefty chunk of LinkedIn connections to help me find a job post-grad, but since I’ve really enjoyed every type of PR work I’ve done, it’s tough to settle on any specific function or industry. That’s just one thing I love about The Meyocks Group: the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the agency atmosphere!Comments
The Meyocks Group has worked with Firestone nearly 10 years now – the relationship doesn’t feel nearly that long.
Firestone is one of agriculture’s most iconic brands – it was Harvey Firestone, after all, who introduced the first pneumatic tractor tire in 1932.
Prior to our relationship, Firestone was one of those accounts we were watching – and coveted. The creative from the previous marketing firm relied heavily on borrowed interest, and didn’t reflect the inherent strength of the brand or the hard-working nature of those who chose it – at least that was how we viewed it.
Somewhere along the line, the brand had lost its mojo. So when The Meyocks Group was given the opportunity to share our thinking, Firestone witnessed an outpouring of creative concepts and ideas.
What emerged was a concept involving just two words – Kick Dirt – that embodied the leadership, the attitude, the strength and the power of the Firestone farm tire brand. The words, which applied to the internal Firestone audience as well as to our targeted producers, were accompanied by a bold visual of a farm tire, with “dirty” treads, that reflected the brand’s grit and toughness.
The “dirty tire” look has become an integral part of the Firestone tire campaign and came from an insight: A farmer told his son (who happened to be a Meyocks art director) that he didn’t understand why farm tire companies always showed their tires so squeaky clean because, “That’s not how we see them.”
We listened. And we continue to talk to farmers and tire dealers for insights in our work with Firestone today.
All of the marketing communications for Firestone reflect the Kick Dirt attitude as well as the brand’s status as the “Leader in the Field.”
We are proud of our relationship with the Firestone team and the work we’ve accomplished together. Most importantly we are proud of the results of our work, including a brand preference increase of more than 12%. Not bad for an 80-year-old.Comments
Delta Dental of Illinois, the state’s leading dental insurance provider, needed to create a memorable consumer campaign to differentiate its brand among competitors in an increasingly competitive consumer environment. A growing trend toward more consumer choice in the health insurance industry begged for an eye-catching campaign that would resonate among consumers as well as business targets.
Backed by a history of a specialized focus in dental insurance, Delta Dental of Illinois had a unique point of differentiation that The Meyocks Group aimed to leverage in a creative campaign.
Our strategy was to sum up Delta Dental of Illinois’ expertise in a simple campaign that focused on their specialization in dental benefits. The goal was to translate their expertise into a platform based on experience.
We summed things up with just four simple words:
OUR WISDOM IS TEETH.
We developed a primary icon of a friendly tooth character wearing over-sized glasses – which later become affectionately known as “The Wisdom Tooth.” Any material created that seeks to convey knowledge, demonstrate expertise or provide education features this character.
To help stand out in typically staid dental insurance advertising, a variety of secondary tooth character icons were created for the purpose of illustrating explicit selling points or simply enhancing the advertising appeal in specialized situations.
A campaign for Individual & Family dental insurance plans featured the Wisdom Tooth character and theme in both online and out-of-home advertisements.
Pre- and post-testing asked our target audiences a variety of questions, including “If you needed to purchase a dental insurance policy today, which company would you most likely purchase it from?” and “Which of the following companies do you believe sell individual dental coverage today?”
Nearly 300,000 Iowans – about one in 10 – showed their continuing support for Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative on October 9 by participating in the third Healthiest State Walk.
The Meyocks Group walked that day – contributing 40 walkers to the overall count. But our support of the Healthiest State Initiative dates back more than three years to the early stages of the Initiative’s planning. I remember sitting in our Quonset Hut during a brainstorming session when someone mentioned the idea of a statewide walk to kick off our efforts to become the healthiest state in the nation. Three years later, I remain very proud of our team’s contributions, including our work to create and promote an event with such statewide support.
One of our clients, Hy-Vee, was heavily involved in the formation of the Initiative. We agreed to handle marketing communications on a pro bono basis, and we continue to do so.
The 2013 Walk was the biggest ever thanks in part to sponsorship support we added for the first time. A special thanks to another of our great clients, Delta Dental of Iowa, who served as presenting sponsor for this year’s event. Delta Dental’s support, along with that of Mercy Health Network and UnityPoint, help us promote the Walk, including a PSA campaign and our Talk the Walk promotion. Talk the Walk referrals were up 80 percent from a year ago.
There’s obviously still more work to do in Iowa’s effort to become the healthiest state. The Meyocks Group helped brand the Initiative’s Focus 5 priorities and is encouraging Iowans to take a pledge to work on one or more of them. If you’re an Iowan, check out our Focus 5 poll, and help us take another step in the right direction.Comments
For Doug Jeske, coming to work each day never gets old.
Jeske is president and owner of The Meyocks Group, a West Des Moines-based integrated communications agency that will mark its 30th year in business on January 1, 2014. He joined the company in April 1993 after working in a corporate communications role in suburban Chicago, and acquired the agency from Hy-Vee, Inc., in 2008.
Ag, Health, Food Focus
The Meyocks Group – named for the late Dick Meyocks, a former owner and Iowa advertising legend – focuses its attention on three industry categories: agriculture, food and health. Jeske has deep experience and is involved day-to-day with work for clients in all three sectors. Among current clients are Farm Credit Services of America and Firestone in agriculture, Hy-Vee in food, and Delta Dental Plans Association and several member companies in health.
Jeske’s an Iowa native and a graduate of Iowa State and Northwestern University. He’s a bleed-cardinal-and-gold Cyclone, and The Meyocks Group has done marketing work for Iowa State’s football program for several years.
In some of his spare time, Doug gets to as many games as he can. He also enjoys a game of tennis, getting away to Lake Okoboji or the Pacific Northwest, and a good glass of wine or Templeton Rye whiskey.
It’s About the People
He’s also served as a body double in marketing communications for two of Greater Des Moines’ most recognizable senior executives.
At the end of the day, what Jeske loves about his agency is all about the people.
“I lead a team of talented, dedicated communications professionals who care about each other and their work more than one could reasonably expect,” Doug says.Comments