A commercial reminder of the importance of the American lawn

There is little doubt that Americans pay a lot of attention to their lawns and a green lawn is pretty much a necessity in front of the American single-family home. On the way to work today, I heard two grass seed commercials within the same commercial break and they reinforced this interest in lawns.

First, I heard about Pennington Grass Seed. Pennington claimed their bags included all seed while their competitor Scotts only had half a bag of seed and half of bag of filler. Additionally, their seeds required less water. I was invited to go online and check out the science behind the seeds. Second, I heard from Scotts which didn’t name Pennington but went through their claims: Scotts seed doesn’t need more water (actually, it retains water much better than Pennington’s) and it has a special filler whereas Pennington simply uses paper for filler.

Three things struck me about these two commercials:

1. Both ads referred to the science of grass seeds with both claiming they had the better mix. Are consumers really going to pay much attention to this?

2. It was interesting to hear how the two companies approach each other. Pennington went right at Scotts while Scotts didn’t used Pennington’s name (though it wasn’t hard to figure out who they were talking about). From this, can I infer that Scotts is the market leader and Pennington is looking for some way to gain ground?

3. Referring back to my first point, how much of this just really comes down to price and brand recognition? When I go to the store to buy mulch this weekend, would I buy seed based on the science or the price?

13 thoughts on “A commercial reminder of the importance of the American lawn

  1. I just heard the same ad by Pennington, whom I’ve never heard of. The claim about filler in Scott’s seed really caught my attention. I can say I’ve never googled lawn seed before, and this ad got me to do it…so I’d say the ad is working. I will do some more research before my first lawn treatment.

    I would be interested in an independent assessment of both products, to see if either are legit.

    TC in RI


  2. It comes down to pride.

    If the value is in the look of the lawn – perception of you – more seed in the bag doesn’t resonate.

    If the value is in checking it off the list, price gets it.

    I heard both commercials too. I too was googling because I was interested in both the market attack and counter.

    Pennington is looking to take share simply by convincing us that the fat expletives over at Scott’s are ripping us off (like Taco Bell meat) by stuffing the bag with “filler”.

    I love Scott’s counter.

    1. They do not recognize Pennington’s by name. “Recently there have been claims that…” – or the like (was actually looking for commercial transcripts).

    2. It’s about the quality result, not the volume of seed.

    3. The “filler” better protects the seed that is in the bag, and holds 8 times the water – essential to growth of seed – than the (lower quality) paper filler in competitor’s seed.

    Brilliant maneuver in my book. While there will always be a market for the low price competitor, anyone who knows the lawn nerd (or psycho) in the neighborhood knows he considers grass a science. If you really want to know – that’s the dude you ask – and he will both recommend better quality and convincingly justify the difference in price.


  3. I actually work for Pennington grass seed. Though most customers wouldn’t be able to tell you, Pennington is actually the largest producer of grass seed in the US. 3 1/2 years ago we introduced a product called “Smart Seed”. It uses a mycorhyzae coating to reduce water needs by introducing a microorganism to the soil that helps plants of all types process water and nutrients more efficiently. The end result is that a lawn gorwn with this product requires 30% less water for the life of the lawn.

    Scotts responded to this product the following year with what they referred to as their “Water Smart” formula. They use a product called Zeba, essentially a corn starch and limestone coating, that hold water like a sponge and slowly releases it. This decreases the need for watering over the first few weeks of the lawn.

    Both products due exactly as they claim, the claims are just slightly different. Pennington will save you water over the life of your lawn, while Scott’s will save you water for about 6 weeks. The other major trade off is that the Pennington coating takes up about 2.5% of the package weight, while the Scotts coating takes up over 50% of the package weight.

    At Pennington, we feel that the consumer is being cheated by our competitor and we have stayed silent about this for far too long. Sometimes the differences are in what they aren’t telling you about their product.


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