Message Modification

IDFA shifts weight on campaign to more closely follow federal guidelines.
The dairy industry has agreed to modify the message within its national generic marketing programs to be more aligned with what the 2005 Dietary Guidelines say about dairy and weight.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) noted these efforts in a letter last month to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), an animal-rights group that opposes any meat or dairy products in the diet, in response to a petition filed by PCRM in 2005.
“This doesn’t mean we’re pulling anything from the market. We’re on track in evolving our ‘healthy weight’ messaging, so consumers won’t see any dramatic changes in the campaign,” says Tom Nagle, IDFA senior vice president. “We like the dietary guidelines [which recommend at least three daily servings of dairy], but they don’t include new science.”
The shift is purely to be consistent with the message presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its new nutrition guidelines, since they are both “government speech,” as checkoff programs were declared to be in recent Supreme Court rulings.
“We haven’t pulled any ads. The campaign is moving forward and we’re excited about the direction,” says Susan Ruland, IDFA vice president of communications. “And it has nothing to do with the substantiation [of weight loss claims]. The science is there. The message is truthful — the government has always thoroughly reviewed everything we’ve done.”
MilkPEP marketing messages have always been subject to “a vigorous scientific and legal review process,” the same that applies to food marketers,” Nagle notes, and the dairy campaign was never accused of violating those standards.
In a joint statement regarding the evolution of dairy and weight messaging, issued last month by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the organizations stand behind their weight-loss messages and the science supporting those messages. “There’s a strong body of scientific evidence demonstrating a connection between dairy and adult weight loss. All of our messages and campaign elements are always thoroughly reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees dairy industry-sponsored campaigns,” the statement says. “At the request of the USDA, we are shifting these elements in our campaigns to emphasize the role of dairy in weight maintenance. The shift aligns its healthy weight messages with what the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans say about dairy and weight.”
The Dietary Guidelines recommend three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt. The guidelines also state that adults and children should not avoid milk and milk products because of concerns that these foods lead to weight gain. Exploring the connection between dairy and weight management remains a major nutrition research platform, and the organizations say they will continue to report new developments.
This marketing shift applies only to the generic campaigns from MilkPEP and DMI, not branded processors. IDFA says its marketing department will provide members with further information soon on this topic.