Milk ad awareness beating top brands

Dairy Farmers of Canada has been pushed 
to improve how it measures the effectiveness of its farmer-funded milk promotion

Dairy Farmers of Canada is trying harder to track how well its marketing efforts boost milk sales after Ontario members pulled promotion funding over a lack of information.

DFC’s recent policy conference included a presentation by Don Mayo, global managing partner for IMI, an organization that measures media campaigns.

Mayo is part way through a multi-year project to measure how well DFC campaigns reach consumers.

The results for the 2017 campaign were exceptional in brand awareness, although Mayo will need more campaigns in 2018 before he will be able to report on return on investment.

Milk is a strange outlier in the beverage market because in Canada it doesn’t have major commercial brands, compared to other large beverages like Coke.

Here’s is what Mayo’s found:

  • Milk ranked third in unaided awareness of brand advertising in surveys of consumers. That’s above Tim Horton’s, Apple and McDonald’s. Canadian Tire didn’t make the top 10 and neither did any of the banks, says Mayo.
  • “There is no doubt it (the milk brand) has broken through,” says Mayo. “(But) there’s no guarantee it will be there next year.”
  • Milk also comes in third in unaided memory of advertising in the beverage category after Coke and Pepsi.
  • The 2017 milk campaigns included a cheese campaign about an animated father and daughter who make cheese, those that run on digital platforms, large national campaigns that feature sports players pouring a “tall cold one” of milk and several spots that play on the “crying over spilt milk” theme.
  • There were also other initiatives that focused on nutrition, which performed well in surveys.
  • DFC also introduced a new logo in 2017 that focused more on modern messaging, with a modern cow and new colouring that replaced an older logo with a cartoonish cow. Farmers were attached to what was known as the “little blue cow” but Mayo says the number of Canadians who remember seeing the logo rose from 45 percent in 2016 to 70 percent in 2017. The new logo and colour were heavily integrated into marketing campaigns and the number of companies using it has increased since the logo was modernized.
  • Traditional advertising, especially on television, continues to perform significantly better than digital ads.

DFC board member David Janssens from British Columbia says promotion funds from his farm alone are $100,000. He expressed concern that funding for promotion is increasingly fractioned across the country.

“It is truly a serious issue,” he says.

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