Please tell me this is a joke



If it isn’t, the ad agency behind this bulb promotion must think women gardeners are gullible to the point of drooling idiocy.

Welcome to Dig. Drop. Done. Where women come in 3 sizes: cocktail-swilling sex kitten, cupcake-baking mom, and attention-starved, curler-wearing golf widow. Each of the characters has her own wardrobe, props, and videos. I hope the actresses who played them were paid well. They’re quite bad, but even so, hard to see how anyone could say this crap convincingly. Here are some of their lines:

I’m realizing it’s an opportunity for me to explore who I am and try new things … bulb-wise and life-wise.

I  garden when I have time and know a little about bulbs, but I'm hardly an expert. Honestly, between the kids, the house, the dog and a part-time job, my life is pretty crazy.

I'm just getting started gardening and bulbs are a great way to dig in without chipping a nail.

This promotion is part of a $6 million-plus campaign put together by the Dutch bulb industry; I reported on it in February, when it was announced. It was supposed to be a “Got Milk”-level rebranding. Bulb sales must be way, way worse than I ever imagined, because this reeks of desperation. “Got Milk” was simple, evocative, and fun. Dig.Drop.Done. takes an easily understood product, and—in an awkward and confusing welter—both inflates and trivializes it. Bulbs are neither as big nor as small as this campaign makes them. The audience for this is supposed to relate to bulbs on “a deeper level,” but how? Choosing the same color tulips as your lapdog’s outfit is one suggestion.

A representative from Woodbine, the agency behind D.D.D. (not a bad slogan, really) is quoted in Garden Center magazine as saying,“We know that you cannot talk to consumers as if they are one-dimensional.”  Right.  If there is such a thing as zero-dimensional, they have surely succeeded in creating it with the “Ladies.”

Once you’ve gotten past the amazingly vapid “Ladies” and their silly videos, there is actually plenty of decent information on this website, much of it aimed at how to protect bulb plantings from marauding animals, which is correctly identified as a major reason gardeners give up on bulbs. There are also good tips on container plantings—I agree that bulbs are often overlooked as excellent in big pots. But I only looked because I thought I should; the overall conceit of the website is so insultingly ridiculous that I’ll never visit it again. Anyway, there are plenty of great books—like Anna Pavord’s Bulb—that have all this and much, much more.

Many of you will say I’m swatting a fly with a sledgehammer here—or that it's not even worth a rant. PR and marketing is what it is, and all that. But once having looked at this, it was impossible not to comment.

And one does wonder what else these companies could have done with the six million. I would have been happy with a few new tulips.

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Also I note no “Bro’s” to act as inspiring lifestyle proxies for the bulb-planting dudes out there – have they just assumed that market is a non-starter?

  2. Hmm, I’m a guy who plants hundreds of bulbs each fall. I am a little chagrined that the DDD folks did not include an image of a man in a smoking jacket, pipe in hand dispensing bulb advice. And not to venture too far off topic but Got Milk did not increase milk sales. It did, however, enrich the agency and the television/print media that ran the campaign.

  3. This combined with the Huff Po article last week….. ugh. let’s have some pictures of real “lady” gardeners – dirt and all!

  4. Funny, my first thought was, “You have got to be kidding me!”

    Second thought was “Where are the men?”

    Why is it that the media thinks gardening is for silly women? Don’t the ad agencies ever do research? Male florists practically invented the tulip, fer crying out loud.

    Since when did gardening get girly? Not just girly, but like Disney princess girly.

  5. Lighten up! It’s corny sure, they remind me of Desperate Housewives. Looks to me like the attempt here is to show people who don’t normally garden, that it can be easy and all they are doing is having a sense of humor about it. I’m tired of the stiff proper gardeners, give me some humor, give me something funny, light and goofy. I’m CERTAIN that my garden wouldn’t appeal to everyone, it’s a weedy, mess of plants, but it would appeal to some, just as this campaign will appeal to some as well.

  6. Now I saw it as tongue-in-cheek, catch your attention if you are a totally nongardner who sees this on youtube and goes to the bulb site. Hopefully it will work better than the Milk campaign. I found it slightly humorous. Very 1950’s tv sitcom and ladies magazine type thing. And yes I agree with Fab. – should have had a stereotypical male of the period too. The thing with Roberto the gardner is a refereence to the tv show surburban housewives(?) I can’t think of the exact name of it.

  7. I tried, really, to see this as some kind of cool postmodern semi-ironic thing. But from their comments I really don’t think that is the intent, and even if it is trying for that, it’s a big fat FAIL, IMO.

  8. Infuriating and idiotic. I have sat in many hort industry conferences and watched well-paid male consultants explain that selling plants to women is like selling lipstick–and, well, other nonsense too tiresome to go into.

    I have to assume this whole campaign was developed by men, or by women so terrified of losing their jobs that they couldn’t bring themselves to tell the well-paid male consultant that he was full of shit.

    Free advice to the bulb people: You want to market to women? Read some old back issues of Martha Stewart. You’ll find articles on bulbs that are well-written and beautifully photographed. Solid growing information, specific lists of species and cultivars, gorgeous garden photographs and even better interior flower arranging images (in interesting vases, unusual settings, with instructions and sources)–and a bit of culture and natural history ala Anna Pavord.

    In other words, a wildly enthusiastic writer, gardener, photographer, designer–making his/her enthusiasm so contagious that readers got addicted, too.

    It’s not hard to sell bulbs to women. Come on, they’re bulbs! They’re (relatively) cheap and beautiful! But it takes PASSION, and these people have none.

  9. How about making bulb planting COOL, SEXY & SMART instead? I could easily come up with three characters that would do just that. P.S. You know why there are no guys? Because they’re thinking ‘Men don’t buy bulbs.’ Here’s an innovative thought–how about appealing to men too? Ever read Henry Mitchell?

  10. Oh please, they got this idea from the backlash to the success of the likes of Desperate housewifes, Oprah, and articles by young women like the writer at Huff who think fun is social networking. If the response to the lack of tough girls does not give you a clue, they are trying for characters that can be made fun of because that is what this generation does. Something people can twit about. (Do you know what a twit is to my generation?)
    But will that in turn sell bulbs, I doubt it.
    But it may generate a bit of online buzz…

  11. There’s no point in preaching to the choir. “real “lady” gardeners – dirt and all!” are already buying bulbs. They’re trying to appeal to other demographics.

  12. Ditto tai haku. However, I’m sorta glad they omitted men altogether from this exercise in stupidity. They’d’ve given us Grampa Kettle and a the most stereotypical “Mama Bear” gay dude imaginable [think John Waters’ “A Dirty Shame”] as people to identify with.

    And for their reference, it’s NOT as easy as dig and drop. There may be some gross, questionable things in the soil of new properties (live or not). DDD is fine for potted bulbs, but that’s about it.

  13. Acknowledging that it’s designed to appeal to nongardeners, not to GardenRant readers, I still can’t imagine it succeeding, and the nongardening friends I’ve sent it to have agreed. And if it’s meant to be funny, it fails at that, too.
    Just unbelievably bad, and to think that the bulb industry – which I now feel really sorry for – is wasting $6 million on this. I also feel sorry for the local garden centers who would also benefit from a half-decent marketing campaign for bulbs.

    I’d like to have seen real people – all inexperienced gardeners – giving their testimonials about how easy and rewarding they found bulbs. Not all women, either.

  14. I doubt it’ll generate much traffic, except for something to see to get pissed off about. Young gardeners aren’t going to find this fun–they’re SMART and that’s why they’re gardening young! It’s a “fail,” bulb people, and you heard it here first.

  15. Well…think what you want, I’m not offended by this. Though I’m not a prissy girl (I’m dirty more than I’m clean and I’ve NEVER had nice nails in my entire life), nor am I a stay-at-home mom who likely hasn’t had time to even THINK about planting bulbs (I’ve worked outside the home ever since college graduation), the campaign will likely reach those who will see it for what it is and not an affront to women (or men, for that matter, although it would have been nice to see that man in a smoking jacket). Will it sell more bulbs? Time will tell, and if it doesn’t, it may have nothing to do with the ad campaign. Or it might. People either want to garden or they don’t and if the site has good info and the campaign led you in, then something good was accomplished by it. What is that saying? All publicity is good publicity? You just helped them out. Go, bulbs!

  16. Publicity is only effective if it coaxes people to buy more. This ad certainly doesn’t do it for me. It may generate some news, appear on several blogs, be something we pick or pan or just be downright offensive to some, but I don’t see much in the way of effectively luring people into buying more bulbs. I haven’t even clicked on their site to see what it’s all about…the pictures of the women in boxes (and I mean that literally and figuratively) don’t accomplish much except to make me want to wrench those vapid grins off their faces and Dig. Drop. Done. them! Rather than lose IQ points by going to their site, I think I will stick with more reliable (and less annoying) sources for my “bulbing” needs. Just think, Hugh Hefner could have done this even better by donning the above-mentioned smoking jacket, proving even a sophisticated octogenarian can plant while swilling a martini (or chicken soup…whatever he’s into these days.) Holly, Bridget and Kendra could have filled the roles of the women in the ads just as easily and effectively by overacting only slightly more than they already do. I’m not much of an impulsive buyer, but this ad makes me more of a anti-repulsive non-buyer.

  17. I guess I just don’t take advertising campaigns THAT seriously, but that’s just me. I’ve got better things to do than to get all huffed about a campaign. It deserves comment, but the intensity of the comments is surprising to me. I sure won’t criticize anyone’s intelligence if they do or don’t like it, or if they visit the website. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

  18. Identifying your customers personas is the beginning of Six Sigma optimization in marketing.

    The theory says that if you want true brand power, then you must quit speaking to a generic customer and begin a conversation with a specific, representative customer. You talk to different customers differently. And the best way to do this is to write to and for their personas.

    Birds of a feather flock together, right? So what is the feather, or rather what are the characteristics, of the birds who flock to your brand, your product, your company? What do these birds have in common? Answer that and you’ll discover the truth of your brand

    That being said, this is too campy for me. It would be more powerful if more real.

  19. The campaign doesn’t appeal to me, but good luck to the Dutch for trying to rekindle an era of Tulilpmania. I’d be curious to know if any market research was done before they signed off on this. That DDD line could’ve been the start of something effective.

    Only hope the ads don’t reflect the way American women are seen by the rest of the world. Ouch!

  20. If I took these ads seriously I would conclude that I should spend a lot less on my garden and a lot more on clothes and makeup. That’s the only way I could be more like these women.

  21. You all just don’t get it. They are NOT targeting the people who already garden or the people who read this blog. It is campy and bordering on sexist, but if you haven’t encountered women like this then you don’t get out much. I see them everyday at my kid’s schools. They do exist – although not as snarky and cartoonish as these women, the personas do exist in real life. They are marketing bulbs to people who know NOTHING about gardening and people who have never put a finger in the soil. Being a plant geek AND a marketing geek, I can see exactly what they are doing. They are trying to reel in a new audience – people who never would have bought bulbs before. Kudos for the thinking outside of the ever boring nursery industry box. I agree with AP though – more “real” people would have been fantastic – but these women do exist – albeit stereotypes and none would be a friend to a true gardener for they couldn’t stand the dirt under our nails, but I guarantee you they were NOT marketing these to us. They’ve already got us. If one “sex kitten” in a color coordinated dress” plants bulbs because of this ad – they’ve succeeded. whoever wrote thee scripts is a great writer.

  22. Whaaa? Well I’m glad you posted about the D.D.D. ’cause I’m now my world has been expanded. It has reached a new level of ridiculuosness.

    Bulbs are nearly magical and transform into an astounding variety of lovely flowering plants that enrich our lives immensely- do they really need all that silly fuss to sell them? yikes.

    Urban Artichoke

  23. Now-a-days creating a buzz is sometimes the best way to get people talking about your site or product, whether it’s positive or negative. Some objectives for businesses is to develop some sort of viral marketing idea that will spread and generate interest and traffic. Just look how many comments have been left here. It can be sad but true.

  24. I could see these three in a modestly financed film in which a burly lad goes door to door looking for yard work and gives some ladies a bulb-ucation. Not saying I’d watch it.

  25. They sould have given away $5million in bulbs and saved a cool million. Sent them to all the people who are NOT on any gardening catalog lists. That would have perked up some interest.

  26. Well…we do now all coexist in a world where “Real Housewives” and the Kardashians are most-watched TV. Too bad for the bulb people that Kim or Courtney or Britney were too busy to be part of the ads.

    (God, please, don’t anybody remember that I even knew those names…I blame my teenage daughter and Mrs. ProfessorRoush that my mind even retained them).

  27. Funny! I AM a real lady gardener, short fingernails, never polished, pony-tail is a usual “do”, jeans, crocs, big floppy hat and I NEVER MATCH!!! (oh well)… But, I think this website is hilarious!!! It’s cute, non-sensical, a little “suessical” and if you lighten up, you would see the comedy in it as well!!!
    Not everything has to be politically correct or a college seminar.

  28. I don’t get it. I agree with you. It’s stupid. And offensive. But what of the ad you’re hosting: “Fall.” — I’m guessing it’s ambulance chasers. The ad appears next to the comments on this post. It is the one with the picture of a ladder next to a house and a woman, hips down, legs up, heels and a red party dress? Of course she wouldn’t have been working on the house. She must have gone out there to offer her man a fresh squeeze of lemonade, right? All I’m sayin’ is, check your own garden before you check others. And let’s please try to not “fall” into the trap of steering dollars to companies that use this kind of crap as bait for its prey.


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