John Deere courts readers without pitching products

John Deere’s magazines cover stories as disparate as refugee agriculture in Rwanda and the birth of country music in Virginia. What you won’t find are stories about its products.

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Pick up a magazine published by a heavy equipment manufacturer, and you’d probably expect to find coverage of combines and backhoes.

What might surprise you is an article about a corner of Virginia where country music was born, or a story on “homesteading the ultimate waterfront property“—a lighthouse.

The Illinois company John Deere, known for its farm and construction equipment, produces two publications that delve into topics that its readers care about—rather than pushing products or highlighting customers.

As organizations edge into brand journalism or non-promotional content marketing, they’re finding themselves on rich soil that long ago was pioneered by John Deere’s The Furrow magazine and its younger sibling Homestead.

“Part of what has made both magazines so successful is that we do not write stories about ourselves,” says David G. Jones, editor of The Furrow and Homestead.

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