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Industry turns to social media to shore up dairy's strength

Real Seal campaign aims to take back ground ceded to grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

June 5, 2013
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NMPF Real Seal logo and social media campaignThe National Milk Producers Federation, Arlington, Va., has turned to social media to revitalize the Real Seal, which identifies foods made with milk from U.S. dairy farms.

The social media campaign incorporates a new Facebook page, blogger outreach and digital advertising. NMPF timed the launch to coincide with June Dairy Month.

According to NMPF, the revamped Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/RealSealDairy) "will create a new voice and visual feel to engage and cultivate target audiences, especially moms and heads of households consuming dairy products."

“The marketplace has become crowded by products packaged to look like dairy products, depicted as dairy products, even using the common names of dairy products, but that aren’t real dairy,” said NMPF Chief Operating Officer Jim Mulhern. “Foods made from grains, vegetables, plants and nuts and have usurped dairy designations like milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and the use of the Real Seal can help us reclaim some of dairy’s traditional portfolio,” Mulhern said in a statement.

One of the elements of the launch will feature a “Name the Character” contest, in which entrants can suggest names for a new, animated Real Seal cartoon.

The blogger outreach is expected to generate engagement, online conversation and awareness surrounding the Real Seal campaign by driving consumers to official Seal platforms, and by interacting with bloggers writing about the mom/parenting, food/cooking, health/wellness, and lifestyle topic areas.

Dairy processors and foodservice operators will benefit from a Buyer’s Guide section that will be added to the Real Seal website in July. It will show consumers where to find dairy products and foods made with dairy products that are using the Real Seal, as well as restaurants that serve only REAL dairy products. Real Seal users will have the option of providing links to their company’s website as well.

“The advent of social media has changed how brands relate to consumers,” Mulhern said.  “Today, there is a much is a greater expectation for transparency and engagement across the consumer packaged goods chain. The Real Seal allows dairy companies to define themselves amid a sea of imitators, and the new seal will also enable companies to utilize it as a country of origin label, which itself connotes important values.”

Mulhern said that the marketing environment has changed dramatically in the 30 years since the Real Seal became a national icon, and that NMPF’s efforts to work with dairy processors to use the Seal must harness new tools to reach consumers. The challenge will be to use social media and other digital outreach efforts to remind older consumers of what the Seal means, and to educate a new generation to look for the Real Seal on packages.

In addition to what NMPF terms "a much improved website," a new Facebook page will debut in June, to be followed by social media advertising program and a food blogger outreach.

Currently the Real Seal is being used primarily on dairy products and pizza, noted Mulhern. “By stacking messages like Made With, We Only Use and American Made above the iconic Real Seal symbol and dairy product descriptors like cheese, butter, dairy ingredients, we believe its use can be extended to a host of products made with real dairy products sold here and in export markets,” said Mulhern.

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