Industries form an informal alliance

Here's what dairy farmers, wineries, restaurants and hotels can teach brands about co-marketing in a crisis.
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If ever there was a time to build a coalition, a pandemic year would be it.

The catchline “we’re in this together” will go down in history as the mantra of 2020. Admittedly, says Jennifer Woron of the BC Dairy Association, it’s one of the few good things that came out of the crisis. The director of marketing learned first-hand, over many informal Zoom calls, the power of an alliance.

Since the start of the year, she’s been taking meetings with several BC guilds, including the Wine Institute, Restaurant & Food Services, Seafood Alliance and the Hotel Association. They’ve been casual conversations, she says, but many of them have led to strategic campaigns that support and drive interest for each other’s industry.

One of those outcomes, the most recent, is the “Wake Up to the Best” campaign from BC Dairy and Taxi. A TV commercial, plus four online “episodes,” focus on what’s said to be the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Naturally, scenes in the spots show how milk is used in kitchens, both inside the homes of dairy farmers as well as Canadians, but also in those of local restaurants.

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The food service industry felt the pinch when lockdown closures hit its restaurants. BC Dairy felt the domino effect, losing a main artery in its distribution chain, while also having to keep up with demand at retail. “A lot of [that consumer demand] can be attributed to people cooking at home, and breakfast is an occasion that’s risen. That’s traditionally a place where dairy consumption is common,” says Woron of the insight that fed the morning meal creative.

But the association is making a concerted effort to spotlight local breakfast spots. While one of the episodes tempts British Columbians through their stomachs, with shots of chocolate-melted pancakes on a grill at Vancouver’s Jam Cafe, BC Dairy is also incentivizing locals through their hearts. For every purchase from a local resto, it will match with a donation to the Breakfast Club of Canada, for up to 16,000 meals. It’s a promotion that supports the businesses that BC Restaurant & Food Services supports, and it’s one of those strategic ideas that came out of the meetings, says Woron.

The “Wake Up to The Best” campaign  which is also supported by content marketing in publications like the DailyHive Kelowna, as well as partnerships with local influencers  is just the tip of the iceberg of work that’s tied to a consortium of BC industry associations. In fact, in the fall, the BC Wine Institute worked closely with the dairy, food, tourism and hospitality associations to promote the BC Harvest Month, a time of year when winemakers harvest their grapes.

The Wine Institute’s Discovery app, a tool that lists wineries and tour maps, was updated in September/October to also include a directory for cheesemakers, accompanying other lists for restaurants and hotels, says Woron. In return, BC Dairy contributed to the wine industry through a new retail campaign that just hit grocery aisles this month.

Inside hundreds of Save-On-Foods stores, Woron’s team has placed signage in the wine section that offers a coupon to shoppers who purchase wine and cheese together. The ideas, she says, is to promote local pairings for holiday meals. It also complements a campaign in the summer that included animated/Zoom spots, where cheesemakers and winemakers converse about recipes and ideas for the perfect pairings.

“We’ve created great relationships where we’ve been able to draw from each other. We’ve found ways to work together to support everyone,” adds Woron. “Leveraging those strategic partnerships is a way to extend your message to new audiences… And it’s been really successful for us so far.”