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  • Writer's pictureJames Pelz

The Discovery Phase Never Ends.



Stack was asked to do the impossible and find common ground.


The United States Roundtable for Sustainable Beef needed to reach the most diverse audience Stack had ever attempted to reach—and then convince them that there’s a lot more in common than they thought. A common good. A common goal.


The USRSB had crafted a vision rooted in the past, nurtured in the present and dedicated to ensuring a sustainable future for the beef industry, the entire beef industry. It respected the ways of the past while acknowledging a growing need to change to survive the future. A serious prospect with serious minds behind it, and while they were enjoying a good amount of success, the need was clear—to continue building on this momentum they would have to continue to improve recruitment.


More people needed to join the movement now to shape the future.


All of them were seasoned cowhands.


Really, it’s what we look for as far as ideal clients go. Great people, great product and a meaty challenge.


Big companies, big brands and big ranches in the room sharing ideas with the core USRSB team and small family enterprises. The best minds (from every walk of life) where doing real work. The vision and values were solid. The work they had compiled was tried and tested.


There were really three challenges laid out in front of them.


First things first, the easy recruitment was behind them. The easiest to reach were at the table, already involved—but then again, why get Stack involved if the task is easy?


Second things second, this audience is diverse. Demographically. Socially. Geographically. This was somehow, more inclusive because it not only involved their opinion but the opinion of their fore bearers, alive or deceased. All of them had an abundance of opinions and didn’t need yours too—didn’t matter if you agreed.


And last things last, they felt they were all on opposing sides of the business. Many of them, while in the same industry, were in a constant state of negotiation with each other. From their point of view if anyone else was winning, it came at a personal cost.


We had to find a common mind-share of a hard-working, often exhausted group of stubborn men and women who despite the challenges still get up the next day to do it all again.

Generational farms and modern corporations.

Cattle ranchers and protein manufacturers.

City slickers and country folk.

Those with three-hundred thousand heads and those with three.

Future and former farmers.


The men and women tasked to be stewards of the land, the industry, the future, and the business, and even those who sought to gain from experience in the university halls. Every iteration in between.



Heart Healthy


Turns out, the solution was making sure the heart was in the right place. The USRSB got the data and the intent right. It was never about telling the audience what to believe but listening and sharing what they learned (something we’re big fans of too). After working with the current members of the USRSB, workshopping and exploring each of their experiences, we started to see the larger connection. It was both rooted in heritage and experience but also fed by optimism and the same drive that kept those men and women the will to get up and do it again tomorrow. Little nostalgia, little hope and a lot of belief that anything is possible.


We leaned on good old fashioned Western American Values. The same values that were handed down from generation to generation were still alive and well throughout the industry. We realized we couldn’t break through all the distrust unless we reminded them all that we are in this together.


From there, we simply followed the story. Or in this case, we went on a five-state, 1500-mile, 21-hours-of-driving, 2-flights (additional 1600 miles of flying) 100,000-head-of-cattle, 8-location, 400-pounds-of-equipment, 10-hotel-room, and one -cow-dog tour of the American Beef Industry. We went out in search of the people and the stories that still make the tapestry of the American West robust and rich.


We met 3-year-olds on horseback running herds, small town farmers at auction, teen-age ranchers running their own businesses. We saw free-range, grass-fed and feed-lot cattle. We met head chefs, line foremen, and business execs. We saw sustainable calving and high-production harvesting. Water saved, AI implemented, waste reduced, and good old-fashioned cowboys on horseback. The oldest men you would ever meet and the youngest entrepreneurs you could ever imagine. We rode along, listened to, and had dinner with the definition of the modern American cattle industry. Cameras in tow, ears perked up and eyes on the lookout for opportunity.


And magic happened.


We started with a plan. Had a goal. Knew a lot. Learned a hell of a lot more.

And we did something others can’t… we found beauty, nuance, life and built upon what the USRSB started. Sure, others could have shot footage, traveled around, put together a story but we’re built different. We started at the start and stayed until the end. We were there, thinking from the board room to the barn.


The benefit to the USRSB? Nuance. Authenticity. Truth. Realism.


In the end, nothing was staged. We caught moments. Heard stories. Evolved and explored the raw and honest truth we were out to find. Then we shared it. We thought we knew what we were seeking, we learned more than we expected. These salt-of-the-earth people can sense insincerity. They have spent lifetimes smelling so much bullshit they have developed a sixth sense for it.


Because we were so dedicated to finding the truth and respecting the message, we were able to reconnect a people under a common vision. They‘ve dealt with enough bullshit; we didn’t give them anymore. In the end, that’s what worked.


An honest call to action that respected the past, looked to the future and put them in the center of the plan. All of them.


Not bad for agency.

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