The crowd was there – many had come in trucks and trailers, ready to buy. The auctioneer from Prime Time Agrimarketing Network, Inc., a sales service based in Perrysburg, Ohio, was wound up and ready to go. His ring men, each wearing a black hat, had their voices warmed up to cry out bids.
There was just one thing missing. Where were the cattle?
It may not be the first sale I’ve ever been to live where the cattle didn’t walk through the ring, but it is definitely the first where the cattle walked in the ring via television screen. In live, living color you could see them walk and judge how they moved. We’re not talking still pictures – these were videos, which appeared on cue as the auctioneer called for the next lot to bid on.
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He and his crew sold 140 head in about four hours, without a calf ever stepping foot in the building where the sale was held.
The cattle were on the premises, however, loafing outside in lots. They were available for viewing before the sale. This was the Martin Dream Girls Sale held at Martin Livestock Farms near Bargersville. Martin Livestock has cattle both at the home farm and at a location near Paris, Ill.
So how did the cattle magically appear? They were filmed by a professional photographer a few weeks before the sale. He waited for just the right day, so the cattle paraded against a background of colorful leaves and a corn field which had been harvested.
This sale was also broadcast live on the Internet. Some people likely bought their cattle while sitting in their living room.
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There was also a table of people taking bids over the phone as the auction unfolded. And there were also absentee bids placed before the sale. All in all, it was a demonstration that technology has changed marketing – it will never be the same.