Food choices are increasingly emotional and difficult for consumers, many of whom are inundated with endless product choices, conflicting science claims, misconceptions around dairy farming practices, and competitive marketing and diet trends. Dairy's relevance and sales are on the decline as people become further removed from where their food comes from. We saw an opportunity to help the dairy industry make a bold pivot from historically reactive-based communications to a proactive approach to:
Primary insights uncovered by Edelman research study with online community of millennials that helped shape our campaign approach included: Consumers generally respect and trust dairy farmers but lack specific knowledge about farmers' values and how those values impact practices and consumers increasingly seek transparency to better understand where their food comes from.
Through social conversation audit about dairy products and what we found to be the more controversial issues surrounding it, we uncovered the topics that are of most concern to the millennial audience. They included myths surrounding: antibiotics, large and "factory" farms and animal care.
Guided by research, the implication for our program was clear: time was right for the dairy industry to take a more proactive stance than before, provide facts and connect consumers to the source — U.S. dairy farmers — to counteract key dairy industry misconceptions. Authenticity and relativity would be crucial to generate impact, in addition to a medium that millennials would react to in their daily lives. "The Udder Truth" three-part video series and paid partnership with The Onion was born, implemented by the following tactics:
Creating breakthrough video series: Developed three-part edgy video series featuring dairy farmers reacting head on to consumer concerns and revealing the reality on their farms.
Engaging millennials through partnership: Published unexpected content through paid integration with The Onion, one of the most popular satirical "news" sites for millennials, which poked fun at the absurdity of common dairy misconceptions. Through custom banner ads, two articles, and one article on their sister site, Clickhole.com, we drove traffic to UdderTruth.org where consumers could learn more and watch the video series.
Building centralized consumer experience: Created custom landing page to house all videos, articles, supplemental content and link back to parent site, DairyGood.org, which helped expand overall reach.
Securing earned media: Pitched consumer and trade media using farmer stories, interview opportunities and breakthrough content as assets.
Partnering with Newsroom: Partnered with DMI's Newsroom to monitor key analytics throughout the campaign to optimize distribution efforts to best reach our key audience, including web traffic and referrals to the campaign landing page, paid social and native video distribution campaigns.
Showing up prepared: Ensured industry felt confident and prepared to spread the truth about dairy, by: Creating a response system involving active listening and protocols for engagement; Providing stakeholders with information ahead of time to counter activists and join the conversation in a positive way.
Activating broadly across the industry: Unified dairy industry, partners, dairy farmers, and consumers, by: Partnering with DMI newsroom on launch, addressing points of contention in the moment, facilitating constant and transparent communication with consumers; Engaging most trusted topical experts — dairy farmers themselves — to communicate directly with consumers via social media, answering questions and revealing realities of dairy farming; Leveraging industry partners, local state/region dairy networks, and influencers to share breakthrough content to consumer, industry, and health and wellness audiences.
Grow Consumer Awareness
Results: Video content garnered 1.1M views (47 percent above benchmark) across channels. Our partnership with The Onion garnered 24M+ impressions (surpassing benchmark by ~9M) and accounted for nearly 50 percent of total microsite traffic, indicating our approach worked to expand our reach for maximum awareness. On launch day alone, UdderTruth.org had 3X as many visits compared to average DairyGood.org traffic. Consumer and trade media outreach garnered 49 placements with 90 percent positive coverage, contributing to a campaign total of 44M+ impressions, a significant success for the dairy industry that farmers felt proud of.
Results: This campaign created the first-ever forum for consumers and dairy farmers to talk about these sensitive and misperceived topics. There were more than 13K social actions (likes/comments/shares) involving campaign content, with Facebook shares surpassing our benchmark by 445 percent. Many dairy farmers stepped in to answer questions and consumers voiced their appreciated for the transparent, quick and consistent communication. These efforts helped reinforce farmer trust, leaving other farmers with a better understanding of today's modern consumer.
Spark Reconsideration Among The IndustryResults: The Udder Truth gave a voice to an industry that historically felt helpless to overpowering negative voices online. The industry gained confidence by talking about these topics transparently, engaging directly with the public like never before and reclaiming their voice. In total, a remarkable 65 industry partners shared Udder Truth content to support DMI's efforts, which was the highest ever amount of participation tracked and reported on.
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