Dairy Farmers of Ontario picks No Fixed Address

The agency will handle the fully integrated assignment as the organization implements an Ontario-specific marketing strategy.

The Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has partnered with No Fixed Address (NFA) as its AOR.

NFA will handle the full integrated marketing and communications assignment for the DFO, including brand strategy, creative, digital, media and public relations. Part of the assignment is the development of a new strategic brand for DFO, which will be launched across platforms. Northstar Research Partners – a global research and insights firm with offices in Toronto, London and New York – will conduct qualitative and quantitative research, consumer anthropology and digital research.

In 2017, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario announced that it would no longer pay marketing funds to the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), beginning in 2018. The decision came after the DFC was not able to provide satisfactory information about the $40 million that DFO paid to the national organization, specifically around accountability for its use. After that, the organization spent much of 2018 working to build out its own consumer marketing department as part of an Ontario-specific strategy, as well as using data to identify opportunities and potential for market growth. In July, it hired Sean Bredt as its chief marketing and business development officer, who was coming off marketing leadership roles at Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, Rubbermaid and Kraft Canada.

Marketing activities the DFO has conducted since then include a partnership with the Ottawa Senators and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) to improve access to youth sports; the “Love Canadian Milk” campaign launched amidst ongoing NAFTA negotiations; and the ongoing, recipe-filled “Milk Calendar” direct mail program.

Yesterday, Health Canada revealed an update to Canada’s Food Guide three years in the making, which eliminated the four traditional “food groups” that had been a part of the government’s nutrition guidelines for almost 70 years. Instead of being given its own separate group, dairy and alternatives were grouped in the larger “proteins” category, along with things like lentils, lean meats, fish and fortified soy beverages. It also provided advice on healthy eating habits, including that Canadians should be aware that food producers may attempt to influence consumer habits through marketing programs.

Shortly after the new guide was unveiled, the Dairy Farmers of Canada released a statement, with the organization stating it was “concerned that the updated Food Guide does not reflect the most recent and mounting scientific evidence available.” Health Canada did not meet with representatives from the food and beverage industry, including marketing groups like the DFC, in creating the updated guide. The DFC and similar industry associations have made efforts to educate Canadians on their research, creating social campaigns that attempt to combat negative perceptions of dairy products and their health benefits.

Bredt said in a press release announcing the assignment with No Fixed Address that its own research shows consumers have “a conflicted perspective of dairy products.”

“While on the one hand, consumers now have access to more information than ever before, this overabundance of data can also lead to confusion and a lot of misinformation,” he said. “We have an amazing story to tell that involves the richness of the product itself and the history of dedicated dairy farmers who have passed their hard-earned traditions and handcrafted expertise from generation to generation.”