Goodnight, ladies


More this.

Less this.

In a retooling of the Dig.Drop.Done. campaign, which I’ve written about here, it looks like we won’t be seeing the three cartoon-y “ladies” who were central to a bulbs-as-lifestyle marketing narrative. They’ll be dropped, at least for the time being. Are they done? Maybe so—it seems people didn’t really dig them as much as the Woodbine agency hoped they would.

The agency told bulb wholesalers that they would focus more on social media, giveaways and working with retailers to come up with ways to make bulbs more fun in displays and in-store events. This was all part of a report Amy passed along from the bulb industry’s annual conference.

I found other parts of the report interesting. In the continuing effort to reinvigorate bulb sales, a dialogue between Holland growers and garden centers is producing suggestions. I liked the talk of garden centers becoming places to relax among the beauty of plants, more destinations than utilitarian shopping stops. I know that’s how I use my garden centers here, especially in winter and early spring. A further observation about bulbs was that they’re trigger plants; seeing them along roadways and in other gardens reminds people that it’s time to get the garden started.  There’s another way to spend marketing dollars.

As for the ladies, apparently they were just as bizarrely wide of the mark as they seemed. And expensive, I’m guessing.

There is plenty that is salvageable about this effort. The how-to is good, the slogan succinct. And, basically, I want any bulb-buying promotion to work. But the central premise clearly came from those who don’t know how to make a connection between pop culture and plant culture.

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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. I call this the “Mad Men” effect. That show has made men in general and ad agencies in particular nostalgic for the days when a woman knew her place, and frankly, I’m disgusted.

  2. Have you read, Gayle Goodson Butler, the Editor in Chief’s column, Better Homes & Gardens, for this month?

    Pure Victorian didactic.

    And the garden pictures she/their editors allowed to be published?

    Butler says, “Each year, we search for an exceptional place to kick off the Garden section, one that offers a new point of view on shaping outdoor spaces.”

    It’s a quaint vegetable garden. Ubiquitous, pedestrian, WITHOUT a hint of Rosemary Verey style. What does this mean? It’s missing the layer of ornamental horticultural splendor making it gorgeous in winter too.

    I guess she’s never heard of a potager. Quite French & centuries old. More than beautiful it’s maximum pollinator habitat too.

    Why is this important? It increases crop yield.

    Hi TROLL !!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  3. I think we all agree that the promotion was hideous. But I really want people to get it right. I want to see more bulbs blooming out there. There are very few gardens I can walk or drive by for my spring gardening fix. Other than my own garden, there are about 30 daffodils blooming on my street, no hellebores, no crocuses.

  4. I always tell people that I plant bulbs because they rise up and give the middle finger to winter. I still think that’s a better ad campaign than what they created.

  5. This year I am seeing the fruits (flowers?) of my first big bulb-planting effort. The pot I forced has come and gone; what a treat, I’ll definitely do more next year! Meanwhile my outdoor tulips are about 6 inches tall, and I’m hoping many of them bloom. I planted them in various places, not really sure where was best. It’s been interesting to see which are doing what, where.

    So why did I wait so long to get into the bulb thing? Not sure, except that when they are out for sale in the Fall, I’m thinking harvest and clean-up, not planting. Also, it always seemed like so much work for each bulb (when you can plant a flowering perennial and be done with it). And then there are the deer…who may still get my tulips!

    So why did I plant them finally? A friend gave me a big bag, saying “I don’t know what kinds or colors these are” . I love a mystery! I would probably buy a bag of “mystery tulips” before I would buy id’d ones.

  6. “it seems people didn’t really dig them as much as the Woodbine agency hoped they would” – you mean women didn’t care for being put into silly stereotypes for the purpose of selling something to them ? I am SHOCKED !

  7. I don’t know if you can build a marketing campaign around this, but I love the fact that planting bulbs is something you can do in the fall that will make spring more beautiful. There is something hopeful about planting bulbs, it always provides me with an emotional lift.

  8. What makes me want to buy more bulbs is seeing my bulbs bloom in the spring. Conveniently, I just got my Brent & Beckys catalog in the mail this week–while my bulbs are blooming.

    Should we be going back to bulb “futures?” 🙂


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