Dairy Farmers highlights millennial love for non-milk dairy products

The industry group moves beyond tackling misconceptions to combat declining liquid milk consumption.


The Dairy Farmers of Canada has moved from tackling category misconceptions to reminding millennials how they continue to consume milk – even if it’s more as an ingredient as liquid milk consumption declines.

The industry group has focused on millennial audiences since launching “Honest. Canadian. Dairy” in January. That campaign and its successor, “Dairy Farming Forward,” explicitly targeted millennial misconceptions about milk, such as the existence of artificial growth hormones in Canadian-produced milk, says Pamela Nalewajek, VP of marketing for DFC.

Although one of the OOH ads from the first campaign was later pulled following complaints to Ad Standards about the accuracy of its claims, Nalewajek has noted the issue arose from trying to articulate its message too succinctly.

Launched Oct. 22, the campaign’s third leg, “Milk. It’s in the stuff you love,” reminds consumers that although they may now be less tempted to pour themselves a glass of milk – a trend that comes amid broader changes across the food and beverage industries – many continue to frequently enjoy cheese, yogurt, ice creams and other dairy products. Nalewajek says the goal is to drive awareness of milk’s association with dairy products and encourage millennials to rethink their stance on the category.

“That traditional glass of milk is one way to consume [dairy]. But then you’ll have it in so many other ways,” she says. Generally speaking, millennials are thinking about dairy more as an ingredient than as a beverage, the result of increased competition in the beverage space. Still, many continue to be large consumers of cheese, yogurt and butter, or to think about dairy as an ingredient in their lattes and smoothies. The campaign, she says, is about making dairy “look relevant to them again.”

“The goal is to shift perceptions of dairy and we looked at it as reframing it as more than just milk, reframing it as [being] all the dairy products that our target already loves.”

The effort includes 15-second video clips inspired by movie and TV tropes, the goal being to deliver a more emotional and relevant message than the question-answering rational approach of previous efforts, Nalewajek says. “Sometimes, you’ll take a rational approach, and that’s categorically answering questions.” At other times, the strategy calls for more “relevance to culture.”

Anchoring this concept is a six-foot-tall glass of milk character, which interrupts scenes from movie and television genres, such as thrillers, romantic comedies and cooking shows, to remind viewers that it can be found in the food items seen in the video. The character may be a “little weird and awkward,” Nalewajek says, but he’s ultimately meant to be endearing.

In addition to the spots appearing on TV, online and in cinemas until Dec. 1, the campaign includes digital display, social media, as well as in-store and OOH display ads. Unlike the previous campaigns led by DDB Canada, this one comes courtesy of John St. Initiative is handling media planning and buying.

In recent months, other regional dairy industry groups, such as the Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador, have made similar attempts to reach millennial consumers and combat declining milk sales with a major focus on liquid milk.

As a national organization, Nalewajek says DFC remains focused on tackling the primary industry challenges, giving its regional counterparts more freedom to hone in on local insights, such as increased interest in specialty cheeses or higher-than-average fluid milk consumption.