Can a "100% farmer-owned” brand resonate with consumers?
Can photographs of real U.S. dairy producers and their families help sell a co-op's cheese?
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA), thinks they can.
Through its "Friends of Elsie” marketing campaign, DFA is emphasizing its co-op structure and its 18,000-member community of producers.
The integrated promotion features DFA members and their families in magazine and online ads, a TV commercial, in-store signage, a recipe booklet and on the Friends of Elsie Web site (www.FriendsOfElsie.com
More than 20 DFA members from across the nation have participated in the campaign.
In addition, Borden cheese products carry a "100% farmer-owned” blue-ribbon label. The packaging also notes that "100% of our proceeds go back to American dairy farmers.”
DFA uses the Borden Cheese trademark under license.
"People want a deeper understanding of where their products come from,” says David Darr, DFA's vice president of sustainability and public affairs. "Today's consumers are not just interested in what they purchase but how and why the product reaches them.”
The campaign, Darr says, helps "build the link between consumers and the dairy farmer families who own the co-op.”
Launched in May 2008, "Friends of Elsie” has generated upbeat reaction both from the co-op's members and from consumers, says Janine Smiley, DFA's director of industry communications.
"We've seen an increase in our sales volume and positive results from our consumer focus groups,” Smiley says.
As a result, DFA has expanded the campaign for 2009.
The campaign's namesake refers to Elsie the Cow, the image that adorns Borden dairy products. In 2003, Advertising Age magazine named Elsie one of the top 10 icons of all time.