There’s a new campaign to promote dairy, and it’s unlike any before. Beth Engelmann, chief marketing communications officer at Dairy Management, Inc., says the objective of the newly-launched Undeniably Dairy campaign is to engage with consumers in a way that builds trust and relevance over time.
“It’s a multi-year initiative and we’re just kicking it off this week,” said Engelmann. “This is not a generic campaign; in fact, it’s a campaign that has brought to life with and through the leadership of the Innovation Center. The entire dairy community has potential to weigh in here. Think about milk, cheese, yogurt, whey. It transcends across the numerous products we have in the dairy category.”
Engelmann says the dairy industry is aware that consumers care about responsible production, where their food comes from, the environment and the nutritional aspects of food. “The real opportunity here is when we all come together and consistently engage with the consumer,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of research on consumers, and we know they want to know more about where their food comes from. Most people live within 100 miles of a farm, but as a population, have never been so disconnected from farming and agriculture. We have an opportunity to bring people back to understanding where their food comes from.”
Although much of the campaign’s target audience already enjoys dairy products, people are asking tougher questions. “Who better to answer these questions than the dairy industry and the leadership coming together in a unified way?” said Engelmann. “We’re building something that is nimble — when we receive feedback from the consumer, we can be nimble and advance and evolve in the moment. This is not an advertising campaign. It’s an engagement campaign and we want to bring it to life in the industry over the next three years.”
Engelmann compares this campaign to the ‘Got Milk’ campaign, explaining that ‘Got Milk’ focused on milk, while Undeniably Dairy will include the entire industry and all dairy products.
“It’s a move from responsiveness to proactiveness,” said Engelmann. “Ultimately, this campaign is all about the consumer. We want to answer their question, we want to proactively share our stories and remind them that the dairy community has their backs every step of the way — from production to a great, nutritious variety of products.”
In the event of animal activists or negativity spurred by bad actors, the campaign will become proactive and show the public that dairy farmers have standards regarding animal welfare. Maintaining two-way engagement with the public will help consumers understand certain practices and encourage questions.
“The goal is to be proactive so we have a place in consumers’ minds when they see negative,” said Engelmann. “When we see spikes of activists, we will have the other perspective of the 98 percent that we can promote to give more of a fair and balanced approach. So we’re being proactive, but we’ll be able to use it in a reactive manner as needed.”
Planning for the campaign began last August, and the foundation was laid in March and April. “Where we are now is the preview,” said Engelmann. “We want to preview this with the dairy industry and allow the dairy community and employees time to engage and begin to have fun and share socially. All this is in preparation for National Dairy Month, when we’ll be launching a fully integrated initiative.”
Partnerships include the Food Network and The Cooking Channel, and social content will include Upworthy. Since connecting people to the farm is part of the focus, numerous on-farm events are planned for June. The campaign is using World Milk Day (June 1) to kick off June Dairy Month, “It’s a global moment,” said Engelmann. “We’re encouraging the dairy community to raise a glass and to use the hashtags #worldmilkday and #undeniablydairy.”
Amber Horn-Leiterman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and chair of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, says for the past 15 to 20 years, dairy farmers have focused on ‘doing the best they can with our land, water and livestock, but have forgotten the importance of showing others outside the industry what and why we’re doing it.’
Horn-Leiterman says although farmers have been striving to do the best possible job on their farms, today’s consumers want to be able to trust dairy farmers. “They no longer have a grandparent, uncle or cousin who can provide that first-hand connection for what they crave to understand — the basic necessity to know where their food comes from.”
An important aspect of the campaign includes showing the consumer how dairy farmers care for their animals and their land, and reminding them that 97 percent of dairies, large and small, are family owned and operated. “We’re proud of how technology has allowed us to become more efficient and more effective, for not only our land and animals but for our families as well,” said Horn-Leiterman.
The campaign has the potential to unite the industry through linking farms to processors to the grocery store shelf. “There’s so much potential to make a difference,” said Horn-Leiterman. “We want consumers to go to the grocery store and pick up a jug of milk, a package of cheese or a tub or ice cream and know that they can trust me, a dairy farmer, to create a quality, delicious product. When they look at that container in their home, they should picture my kids getting off the school bus, running to help grandma feed calves, or me walking among my cows making sure they’re as comfortable as possible.”
Horn-Leiterman says the campaign is a means by which farmers can open the barn doors and show consumers what ‘Undeniably Dairy’ means to dairy farmers. She sees it as a way to reconnect farmers with consumers, and to reassure them that farmers can be trusted when it comes to producing safe, nutritious food.
“We all dairy a little differently, and sometimes that makes it harder for us to see what we have in common and what we can achieve if we’re all together and pulling in one direction,” said Horn-Leiterman. “No matter how we manage our farms, it comes down to a quality product. Every dairy farmer has a story to share, but there’s one thing that unites us, and it finally has a name: Undeniably Dairy.”
Visit Undeniably Dairy online at www.dairygood.org/undeniably-dairy.