While urban millennials are increasingly aware of the food they eat, most are far removed from the farm and don't have a sense of where their food comes from, especially when it comes to dairy. They might picture a big red barn and lots of cows, but that's far from the full story.
As a result of this distance, consumers are more easily swayed by sensationalized stories about dairy farm practices and "farm-to-table" marketing from dairy competitors. Alternatives like almond milk now occupy places on the table where dairy was once a staple, causing category sales to suffer.
We needed to reconnect urban millennials with the dairy foods they love and the farmers who make them, to transform perceptions and rejuvenate sales. So, we created Acres and Avenues, a cultural exchange between millennials and dairy farmers in which each walks a mile in the other's boots.
To truly get people to think differently about dairy, we needed to unite everyone—farmers and consumers alike—through the universal language of laughter. Bringing humor to the farm created an open conversation and genuinely entertaining experience to help bridge the ever-widening gap between dairy and those who consume it.
Leading with humor to reach our target millennial audience fostered an unexpected partnership with a celebrity cast member, who helped highlight our farmers' wittier sides. We also created a seamless journey for our audience that allowed us to attract their attention with comedy while still telling our farmers' stories. Specifically, we:
Brought one of YouTube's wackiest stars to the farm: We chose YouTube DJ/comedian and Pitch Perfect 2 bad guy Flula Borg as our urban cast member, who brought his one-of-a-kind fanny pack style and "sassy" beats to the farm for a farm-to-table experience unlike any other.
Showed who farmers really are: They're not just old guys with pitchforks. They're young, millennial, and even female, with stories and experiences (and beat boxing skills) that spark a connection with consumers.
Engaged millennials, wherever they happened to be: Knowing our millennial audience can visit multiple social platforms in a single minute, we relied on re-marketing tactics across Facebook and Instagram to reach them where they already were to tell a holistic story that started with humor but also showed our farmers' passion for what they do.
By pushing our videos to earn our audience's attention with humor while also telling a complete story across multiple platforms, we started to change viewers' minds about dairy and motivate them to engage more than ever before:
Grabbed attention through creativity, comedy: 73% of video viewed on YouTube on average surpassed industry benchmark of 72%*
Drove engagement with entertainment: 5.97% engagement rate on Facebook, our primary channel, exceeded the industry benchmark of 1-3.5%*
Transformed perceptions: 82% and 62% of viewers, on average, said they were likely to purchase dairy and trust the industry, respectfully, after watching one episode.
Earned the media's attention: Our videos were shared across entertainment publications – including Entertainment Weekly and MTV – which resulted in more media coverage than ever before for Acres and Avenues.
*Source: 2015 eMarketer study, 2015 Salesforce Social Engagement Benchmark report
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