Dairy Farmers of Ontario hope to do it right

The industry association celebrates tradition in an integrated campaign aimed at young parents.

With its “Dairy Done Right” campaign, Dairy Farmers of Ontario is pairing farming and family in an effort to connect with young parents and dispel what it believes are misconceptions about dairy.

The TV spot, shot in black and white, spotlights the Forbes family of Sarnia, one of five real life families featured. The farmer reads a letter in voice-over addressed to his young children about his pride in the family business.

Sean Bredt, chief marketing officer of Dairy Farmers of Ontario, tells strategy that the target for the campaign is millennial parents. By sharing stories of Ontario farmers and showcasing the role dairy should play within a healthy diet, the hope is that the message will hit home with millennials as they begin to build their own family routines.

Bredt said DFO’s insights reveal that there has been what it considers “misinformation” with respect to dairy production practices, and concedes that consumers have a conflicted perspective of dairy products – that it’s made on factory farms, or that it’s unhealthy. Bredt says the brand aimed to address these by highlighting that dairy is high quality, produced on small local farms according to high standards, and using hand-crafted methods.

Health Canada recently updated the Canada Food Guide, eliminating  “dairy and alternatives” as a food group in favour of promoting more generally healthy eating habits and more plant-based foods. The Food Guide’s release came following years of consumer trends that have seen consumers turn away from traditional dairy in favour of alternatives, due to concerns about both its health value and the environmental impact of large livestock farming operations.

These are both factors that have led other dairy farmer associations to launch their own campaigns addressing dairy’s health value and its the industry’s farming practices. The BC Dairy Association recently launched a campaign built around the “fun” moments and memories around milk. The Dairy Farmers of Canada launched a campaign earlier this year also aimed at dispelling “misconceptions” about dairy’s production and nutritional value, though one of the ads in the campaign was removed following complaints about inaccurate claims.

This is the first fully integrated marketing campaign Dairy Farmers of Ontario has run in 12 years. In 2018, the organization withdrew its marketing contributions to the national Dairy Farmers of Canada in order to build out its own consumer marketing department as part of an Ontario-specific strategy. In July 2018, it launched its own “Love Canadian Milk” campaign amidst NAFTA negotiations, around the same time it announced a three-year partnership with the Ottawa Senators and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to make sports more accessible to Ontario youth.

The “Dairy Done Right” campaign by recently chosen AOR No Fixed Address (with research conducted by Northstar Research Partners) runs throughout Ontario for three months. In addition to TV, social, digital, public relations and radio, the campaign includes a major out-of-home component featuring actual Ontario dairy farmers using black and white photography, and taglines like“Crafted Daily. For Generations” and“Proud to put a face to our farm.”

Bredt says organization has plans to run another phase of the campaign in September.