Cargill, Inc.

Author:Ed Dinger

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15407 McGinty Road West

Wayzata, Minnesota 55391


Telephone: (952) 742-7375

Fax: (952) 277-4455

Web site:


Cargill, Inc. decided at the end of the 1990s to recast its image as a staid commodities company to an innovative provider of solutions for its food industry customers. The company developed a 10-year plan to change the way it operated and was perceived in the world. A new logo was created to announce that change was under way at Cargill, and a fresh branding message was conceived. In the fall of 2003 an integrated marketing campaign dubbed "Collaborate>Create>Succeed" was launched to articulate Cargill's new vision.

The campaign's main target was director-level officers in food industry companies, the goal being to show them through concrete examples how Cargill could partner with them to solve problems and in the end help them make more money. The TV spots and print ads laid out a real-world problem and then revealed the Cargill solution that proved profitable to the customer. For example, one ad centered on Cargill's efforts to help confectioners develop a better-tasting, low-sugar chocolate. Similar ads also presented these same stories on the Internet.

The long-term campaign, the budget of which was not publicly disclosed by Cargill, succeeded in improving the company's image with the target audience, which also indicated that it was now willing to pay more for Cargill products and services. The "Collaborate>Create>Succeed" theme also galvanized the Cargill rank and file as they began taking to heart the concept of partnership with customers. One of the print ads in the campaign won a prestigious honor, awarded first place for the Best Single Advertisement in the American Business Media's Creative Excellence in Business Advertising (CEBA) competition.


As the twentieth century came to a close, Cargill, the largest private corporation in the United States, with annual sales approaching $50 billion, found itself highly diversified yet typecast in the mind of its customers. The company was involved in virtually all aspects of the food-supply chain yet remained pigeonholed as a trading company and low-cost processor. Cargill's sheer size also worked against it, as customers had a difficult time associating such a behemoth with innovation, let alone possessing concern about the plight of the smaller companies it did business with. During the customer research phase of the "Collaborate>Create>Succeed" campaign, one respondent summed up an all-too-common opinion: "When Cargill says its believes in a win/win, they mean Cargill wins twice."

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An ad from Cargill's "Collaborate>Create>Succeed." campaign. Photo Courtesy of Martin Williams, Inc. Reproduced by Permission.

In 1999 Cargill initiated a 10-year plan called Strategic Intent, to reorganize the company for the new century and change its image. The stated goal was "By 2010, Cargill will be the recognized global leader in providing agriculture and food chain customer solutions that enable them to succeed in their businesses." The achievement of this goal required a reorganization of the way Cargill did business, a communications effort to change the mind-set of its workforce, and a major marketing campaign to change the perception of Cargill with its customers. More importantly it wanted to make the case that Cargill was more than just commodities and that despite its size it wanted to...

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