In 2010, U.S. Army sniper J.D. Williams lost both legs and his right arm to an explosive device while on reconnaissance in the mountains of Afghanistan.
During his recovery, the avid fisherman and hunter realized the only way he could be truly happy again "was to be able to challenge myself through the great outdoors, where nothing's handicap accessible—you have to adapt and overcome," Williams says in the short film below from Kioti Tractor.
Dedicating his life to helping fellow combat veterans struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress, Williams, who also operates an 80-acre farm in Kentucky, formed Mohawk Outdoors, a nonprofit organization that takes ex-military personnel on camping trips and woodland excursions.
"Being able to have a UTV, something we can get paraplegics, double amputees easily and safely inside of and out of—it would be a dream come true for us," he says.
The four-minute clip culminates with the arrival of just such a gift from Kioti. The company modified one of its utility terrain vehicles, installing a hand-controlled gas pedal and brakes, along with special systems to accommodate a wheelchair.
Kioti's outreach to Williams represents an evolution of the brand's "We Dig Dirt" campaign, launched last year by ad agency Baldwin&. That work positions the brand as a maker of machinery for folks who "love the work they choose to do in the dirt—it is their happy place," says agency associate creative director Scott Chalkley.
Giving wounded vets greater access to the restorative power of nature—their version of "getting back to the dirt"—seemed like a meaningful way for Kioti to expand its message and stand out from better-known rivals such as John Deere and Kubota, Chalkley says.
The online push was developed through a media and production partnership with Jungle Creations, and rolls out across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and VT (Jungle's video platform), with paid social support in the mix. A second video, which chronicles one of Williams' excursions with a group of vets, drops next week.
"The guys that went on this trip often forgot they were miked while they were riding in the K9, fishing and standing around the campfire," Chalkley says. "The frankness with which they spoke about their combat experience was harrowing. Their camaraderie was obvious. It both felt a bit like eavesdropping and was humbling to hear what they've been through."
All in all, the campaign provides an on-brand tug at the heartstrings and a potent reminder that personal sacrifice and dedication to duty don't end on the battlefield.
Greg Bibee - Marketing and Business Development Manager
Christina Propst - Creative Director
Bryan Falkner - Product Support Representative
Jonathan Dew - Creative Advertising Specialist
Emma Fusco - Marketing Coordinator
Baldwin&: Creative and Media AOR
David Baldwin - CEO
Bob Ranew - Creative Director
Jennifer Matthews - Director of Design
Scott Chalkley - Associate Creative Director
Jennifer Hazelett - Director of Account Management
Michelle Blaser - Communications Strategy Director
David Dykes - Director of Media
Ali Shore - Senior Media Planner
Jarod Diaz - Senior Media Planner
Renée Robinson - Senior Social Strategist
Lindsay Barnes - Senior Project Manager
Jungle Creations: Media and Production Partner
Chelsea Slayter - Director
Sebastian Slayter - DP
Brooke Berté - Creative Lead
Oliver Warley - Producer
Charles Colwill - Video Editor
Cristina Balduin - Video Editor
Joe Dunn - Partnership Manager
Eckel & Vaughan: PR AOR
McGavock Edwards - Strategic Communications Director
Greyson Sidebotham - Senior Account Manager
Sam Gold - Account Specialist
Lucy Barreto - Account Specialist