CASE Construction Equipment needed a way to stand out from its competition and to show potential customers that although CASE wasn’t the biggest supplier in the construction industry, it was the supplier who best understood them, and best understood the challenges facing the industry.
Based on some initial research, we found that few challenges in the construction industry are more dire than America’s deteriorating infrastructure system. We realized linking CASE to real progress on rebuilding U.S. highways and bridges would help increase brand awareness and position the company as an industry leader.
To cement this connection in customers’ minds, we knew that new white papers or a few e-blasts weren’t going to cut it. We needed to look outside traditional integrated marketing tactics.
Enter Dire States—part national tour, part grassroots movement and all about impact. We partnered with infrastructure expert Dan McNichol, who drove around the country in his rusty but trusty 1949 Hudson (a metaphor for the age and condition of U.S. infrastructure) to raise awareness of the need to rebuild America. Select CASE dealers received direct mailers explaining the benefits of hosting a tour event with McNichol, and event kits including signage, invitations and agendas were made readily available to participating dealers.
To promote the tour, we created DireStates.com, which served as the home base for all our communication. Building on that, we used a combination of social and print ads in select industry publications, along with media outreach and public appearances by Dan McNichol to help spread the word.
Each stop on the Dire States tour brought together citizens, government officials, construction workers and others who together could drive change. We held more than 60 invite-only events at CASE Construction Equipment dealers, averaging nearly 100 attendees per event. Broadcast coverage through ABC's 20/20 and dozens of local NPR stations boosted awareness of America's infrastructure needs, and more than 16,000 people are connected with Dire States on Facebook.
That awareness led to real successes in local infrastructure projects. Dire States was credited with dislodging a road rebuild project in Illinois after years of indecision, pushing through investment bills in Pennsylvania and rallying support for an infrastructure ballot initiative in Texas.
The initiative also helped to pave the way for passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015, which was the first law in more than a decade to ensure long-term funding for highways and related infrastructure and programs. Passage of the act was celebrated in the construction industry for creating a steady source of project funding—and reasons for construction companies to invest in new equipment.