The rural equipment market has made the national news again, with another less than complimentary headline, this time in USA Today, “5 Ridiculous Lawn Mower Moments from the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.” (See my previous blog on a recent Washington Post story.)

First played in 2008, the Gasparilla Bowl has been sponsor-less for the last 2 years. Leading up to the bowl game, I was reading veiled snide comments in the media about the sponsorship, which I didn’t get. There are other sponsorships for Bowl games that seemed off-beat at their inception — the old Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl, for instance.

To those outside the industry, the Bad Boy promotions might have been over-the-top for a lawn mower company. To us insiders, the promotions are exactly what Bad Boy has been doing since its beginning and what has established its unique brand among so many competitors.

Branding is a topic we’ll continue to cover this year as it’s a critical one for our dealers who serve the consumer market. It’s easy to talk about quality, reliability and a smooth ride. Figuring out branding is much more difficult, since it’s an individual experience. There is no “cc” rating for brands.

Over the past few years, manufacturers have stepped up national advertising campaigns and I’m hoping you dealers are seeing some benefits. Bad Boy stepped out with this major sponsorship, and, yes, maybe some of the on-field promotions went a little far. I bet, though, that even though some viewers might have rolled their eyes when the stage was brought out by a mower, others loved it.

Here’s a question for Bad Boy dealers and other dealers whose brands have expanded national advertising efforts, what are you doing to take advantage of the  national promotions in your local market? For instance, did any Bad Boy dealers host Bowl events or offer Bowl specials? Or, what did your dealership do to boost your dealership’s connection to the brand?

You are choosing to carry your tractor, mower and outdoor power equipment lines because the branding speaks to you as well, along with the quality and reliability, etc. Devote some time this year to understanding those branding connections better, so you can make your marketing and advertising efforts resonate with your customers.