Bayer Crop Science Expands Relationship With BBDO Atlanta

By Erik Oster 

Bayer has consolidated responsibilities for its U.S. crop science portfolio with four agencies, following a review launched in the wake of its acquisition of Monsanto.

BBDO Atlanta expanded its relationship with Bayer, tasked with handling crop protection products, including herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides, as well as the company’s new rewards program. Bayer spent around $11 million on marketing across its crop science portfolio, nearly $7 million of which was devoted to the farm pest control category, according to Kantar Media. In the first six months of 2019, Bayer spent around $6 million on crop science brands, of which over $3 million was devoted to farming pest control, again according to Kantar Media.

St. Louis-based HLK will handle brand seed, regional seed brands, Bayer’s trait portfolio, and integrated systems such as the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. OBP, another St. Louis agency, will be responsible for the DEKALB, Asgrow, Deltapine and WestBred seed brands.


Cincinnati’s Barefoot Proximity will handle holistic portfolio strategy and measurement, digital engagement and multichannel marketing, and modeling. Naperville, Ill.-based Rhea + Kaiser will lead media planning and placement.

“The history and relationships we had with a number of the industry’s top agencies were great, but unfortunately as the two legacy companies integrated, we knew we had to consolidate and simplify our agency structure,” Bayer North America brand and marketing communication strategy lead Bob Wilhelm said in a statement. “Reducing the number of agencies we work with and streamlining our agency operating model is necessary to best position our business for future growth.”

Changes will go into effect for the 2021 crop year planning cycle, which begins in early 2020. Current partners that are expiring will wind down in the first half of 2020.

“We thank all our agency partners for their commitment and work on our brands, and for their participation in the agency review process,” Wilhelm added. “Every day, we are excited to work with some of the best talent in the world, both inside and outside our walls.”

The Monsanto acquisition appears to have been a problematic one for Bayer as it faces thousands of lawsuits related to links between Roundup and cancer. It’s unclear how marketing spending may be impacted by Monsanto products. Monsanto spent nearly $47 million marketing in the U.S. last year, of which a little over $2 million was devoted to the farm pest control category, according to Kantar Media. In the first six months of 2019, Monsanto spent around $28 million, nearly $2 million of which devoted to farming pest control, according to Kantar Media.