Editor's note: the Milk Processor Education Program yesterday announced it is undertaking a new integrated marketing campaign called Milk Life. The campaign will focus on the nutrition in milk, especially its protein content. In this exclusive report, MilkPEP Interim CEO Julie Kadison explains the decision.

By Julia Kadison, MilkPEP

The milk industry has faced challenges in recent years, and 2013 was the fourth consecutive year of decline in milk sales. From economic uncertainty and population trends to the ever-growing competition for consumers’ taste buds, it has been a tough marketplace.

To face these challenges head on and reverse this decline, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) is ramping up communication of milk’s unique nutrition story, which is perfectly suited for today’s consumer.

While milk is found in most homes in the United States, many Americans don’t realize its full nutritional value, especially that milk has high-quality protein, according to research by ExactCast (a joint venture of Whitman Insight Strategies and Protagonist). And protein is quickly climbing the charts as one of the most sought-after nutrients.

Today, nearly 60% of Americans consider protein when purchasing packaged foods and beverages, and the majority is trying to get more in their diet, according to the International Food Information Council, Food & Health Survey 2012, 2013. While many food and beverage products are quickly adding protein to meet this demand, milk naturally contains the high-quality protein consumers want. Importantly, milk’s protein is a complete protein, compared to plant protein sources that may be missing some of the building blocks the body needs. Additionally, it’s convenient, great-tasting and affordable.

MilkPEP’s continued strategy of promoting milk at breakfast — which accounts for more than half of milk’s consumption volume — is ideally suited for sharing our story. Experts recommend spreading out protein consumption throughout the day, including 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal rather than overloading protein at any one meal. Adults, however, are getting only 10 to 12 grams of protein at breakfast, according to D.K. Layman, writing in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

MilkPEP's strategy to fill the protein gap at breakfast

By leveraging this breakfast “protein gap,” we believe there is a strong opportunity to drive increased milk consumption. Recent consumer research further supports this strategy. In fact, the research confirmed that by promoting milk’s protein message to consumers across the right media channels, demand for milk at breakfast can increase significantly — by as much as 500 million gallons over time.

To start to capture this opportunity, we need to communicate milk’s high-quality protein content in a compelling way that:
• Makes milk the hero and protein the superpower;
• Creates competitive differentiation;
• Modernizes milk to create cultural cachet; and
• Is aspirational to our target.

But it’s not enough to simply talk about protein. We have to connect with consumers emotionally, too. We need to show consumers how they can power their potential by starting every day with milk’s 8 grams of protein in every 8 ounces.

Introducing Milk Life, a groundbreaking marketing campaign

That’s why MilkPEP is launching a new groundbreaking national integrated marketing campaign — Milk Life. With stunning images of milk drinkers getting a “boost” from milk while doing everyday activities, the creative emphasizes how drinking milk allows you to live your upmost potential.

The campaign concept, Milk Life, has a powerful dual meaning. On one hand, Milk Life is an inspirational call to arms, encouraging people to wring every last drop out of every single moment. On the other hand, Milk Life is a mode of living at your fullest potential — a way of living where milk helps power you to stay at your best.

This multiyear, multichannel campaign will be supported by TV, print and digital advertising, consumer and retail promotions, public relations and social media. But, to truly build momentum and ensure the campaign reaches its full potential, we need your help.

How milk processors can take action to build their business

Here’s what you can do to support Milk Life and get the most out of the national campaign to help you build your business:

• Download Artwork & Assets. Milk Life campaign artwork, logo and packaging information are all easily accessible in the Download and Order section of MilkPEP.org. These materials will help you encourage people to Milk Life and drive milk purchase in-store.

• Get Social. Spread the word about how to “Milk Life” and leverage the campaign’s visual assets via your brand’s social channels. We even provide suggested monthly social media content on MilkPEP.org.

We believe in this campaign. The combination of our strong message, protein as the relevant reason to believe, and beautiful, aspirational visuals will make a difference. In fact, the world is about to view milk in an extraordinary new way. We hope you join us and support Milk Life. And stay tuned for new ways this Milk Life approach will come to life in 2014 and beyond.