On the hooves of “Got Milk?” and “The Udder Truth,” the dairy industry has launched another national marketing campaign aimed at boosting sales of milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and other products from cows.
The new campaign, named “Undeniably Dairy,” comes from Dairy Management Inc., a farmer-funded organization that promotes dairy products.
It’s been launched as sales of milk as a beverage have fallen to some of their lowest levels in decades. Changing consumer habits and more drink choices are to blame, according to the industry.
Yet it’s not all bad, as sales of cheese, butter, yogurt and other dairy products have risen in recent years.
Unlike the “Got Milk?” campaign, which was aimed at improving sales of milk as a beverage but didn’t help much, “Undeniably Dairy” is more broad based.
It also has a strong emphasis on connecting consumers with dairy farms and how milk is produced.
Increasingly, people are examining the food chain, said Barb O’Brien, a Dairy Management Inc. executive.
But unlike "The Udder Truth," this campaign probably won’t use quirky humor that some farmers found offensive.
Dairy Management Inc. launched "The Udder Truth" in 2015, in partnership with The Onion, a source of funny, fake news.
Under one section, titled “Learn a lot, laugh a little,” readers were directed to a fake news story about “Morning Clots,” a pulp-heavy milk.
The website included a link to an “open letter from a dairy cow.”
“Are there some cows that are mistreated? I’d guess that there are. But frankly, I think you humans have a better track record of treating us cows than you do of treating your fellow humans,” the letter said.
Dairy farming’s image has been tarnished by cases of animal abuse and controversies over concentrated animal feeding operations.
The new campaign aims at changing public perception, using real-life examples of farmers such as Amber Horn-Leiterman from Brillion.
“People can see that it’s my family farm, my kids getting off of the school bus and helping feed the calves,” she said.
Hopefully this campaign will strike a better tone than "The Udder Truth," said Mark Kastel, co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, based in Cornucopia, which advocates for organic farming.
“I don’t know what they were drinking on that last campaign, but it probably wasn’t milk,” Kastel said.
Dairy Management Inc. hasn’t made public its budget for "Undeniably Dairy," a campaign that will probably unfold over the next couple of years.
Previous campaigns, such as the “Got Milk?’ slogan and milk mustaches on celebrities, won advertising awards but did not reverse the sales decline.
The U.S. dairy industry, awash in a surplus of milk, is in a tough spot, according to Kastel.
“Despite farmers having spent untold millions on promotions over the last couple of decades, per capita consumption of milk as a beverage has crashed,” he said.
Kastel said he would like to see more emphasis on dairy products with their natural healthy fats, rather than low-fat versions that have fallen out of favor with consumers.
“What really sets trends in the food industry is great quality and great taste,” Kastel said.