The call for entries for the first-ever Milk Marketer of the Year competition, a joint awards program from Dairy Foods and the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), drew an impressive assortment of entries. Through MilkPEP marketing programs and special events, these fluid milk processors and MilkPEP members generated consumer excitement for — and increased sales of — white and flavored milk.

The awards program aims to increase visibility of individual processor’s marketing campaigns that use the MilkPEP programs.

“The individual milk brands’ marketing executions are impressive and impactful, but because of most brands’ regional or local scope, they are often not seen by the larger dairy community,” said Kim Purcell, manager of industry communications for Washington, D.C.-based MilkPEP. “Therefore, MilkPEP felt it was important to create a platform that showcased these remarkable marketing efforts that promote trust and demand of fluid milk.”

On hand to judge the entries were Subriana Pierce, managing partner of Navigator Sales and Marketing and a MilkPEP board member; Sal Taibi, president of the Campbell Ewald advertising agency; and Jim Carper, former editor-in-chief of Dairy Foods. Entrants were evaluated on the strength of their marketing programs and demonstrable results showing an increase in white milk or flavored milk consumption. The judges considered marketing efforts that took place between July 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2016, After careful consideration, they selected one overachiever as Milk Marketer of the Year and recognized two other companies with honorable mentions.

“All of the entries were excellent and exciting to review,” Purcell noted. “In general, the winners really stood out by both elevating and extending the MilkPEP programs beyond what our national campaign could do.

Pierce noted that the three honorees all had a cause and a message. But more important, they were able to measure the success of their campaigns.

“That’s what made these campaigns successful,” she said. “They set goals and then measured results against those goals.”


Dean Foods takes the crown

When all was said and done, the judges deemed Dallas-based Dean Foods most deserving of 2017 Milk Marketer of the Year honors.

The road to the title began when the company partnered with MilkPEP for the 2016 Olympics. In its “Building Champions” campaign, held June 20 through Aug. 28, 2016, Dean Foods encouraged consumers to purchase specially marked gallons and half gallons of TruMoo chocolate milk and DairyPure white milk.

The company said it updated DairyPure packaging to feature the MilkPEP/U.S. Olympics Committee (USOC) logo. The packaging also had a callout inviting consumers to submit their receipt (via text, email or company website) for a chance to win a trip to the U.S Olympic Training Center, as well as weekly Team USA prize packs. Dean Foods updated its TruMoo packaging, meanwhile, to feature the USA Swimming logo and a callout inviting consumers to submit their receipt for a chance to win a trip to New York City to walk the red carpet with the USA Swimming National Team, as well as weekly Team USA prize packs.

Promotional materials for DairyPure and TruMoo featured former U.S. Olympian Jen Kessy (beach volleyball) and U.S. Olympian and mom Jenny Thompson (swimming), respectively. Both campaigns included in-store point-of-sale (POS) clings, wobblers, shelf strips, header cards, shelf blades and shelf violators; social media posts on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter; ad slicks for sales teams; and brand-specific promotion microsites, Dean Foods said.

On the media campaign front, the company executed a number of TV billboards and custom vignettes for both brands on such networks as DIY Network and FYI, as well as custom digital content via a variety of partners. The TruMoo campaign also included six print ad insertions in five consumer magazines.

On the PR side, the DairyPure campaign secured 239 placements with 5,174,237 impressions, Dean Foods noted. It include a national press release announcing DairyPure’s support of MilkPEP’s national MILK LIFE campaign and deliveries of DairyPure milk to Olympic swimmer and medalist Elizabeth Beisel.

Meanwhile, the TruMoo PR campaign garnered 174 placements with 5,639,228 impressions. It included a national press release announcing the brand’s support of MilkPEP’s Built with Chocolate Milk campaign, eight tweets for Thompson that highlighted TruMoo as her preferred recovery beverage, and delivery of TruMoo to Olympic swimmer and medalist Tyler Clary.

The DairyPure public relations campaign alone saw an impressive return of $3.07 for every dollar invested, Dean Foods said. For TruMoo, the return was $2.67 for every dollar invested.

In judging the entries, Taibi was impressed with the level of commitment Dean Foods made to the Building Champions campaign. The effort covered everything from packaging conversions and new POS materials to social media promotion and consumer advertising.

“This was a great one-two punch for the milk industry,” he said.

Dean Foods is honored to be recognized for its outstanding marketing accomplishments, said Wendy Poer, director of marketing for TruMoo.

“We were able to leverage the scale of our national milk brands in our approach, providing consumers an opportunity to train like an athlete, along with the chance to win one of two once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” she said. “Thanks to MilkPEP for facilitating the relationships with the USOC and U.S. Swim Team to make these promotions possible.”


Honorable mention: Hiland Dairy Foods Co.

An honorable mention goes to Springfield, Mo.-based Hiland Dairy Foods Co. for its creative and engaging “Think 30” campaign. The campaign tied in with MilkPEP’s “My Morning Protein” campaign, which promoted protein pairings. The company said it based the campaign on MilkPEP research studies and the recommendations of nutritional experts that Americans consume at least 30 grams of protein at each meal.

To extend the protein message beyond breakfast, Hiland came up with a slogan: “Think 30g of Protein per Meal … Just Add Hiland!” The campaign had three goals: to promote Hiland products as healthy sources of protein, to educate consumers about protein’s benefits and to provide consumers with ideas for healthful meal solutions and pairings, Hiland said.

The campaign played a major part in Hiland’s 2016 marketing strategy, so the company promoted in all of its markets via an integrated media strategy that began in February 2016. Channels included POS materials, social and digital media, FSIs, videos, the company website, radio and TV. The campaign’s content even found its way into Hiland’s blog and enewsletter.

The results are notable. Hiland increased its website sessions by 63% in comparison to the prior-year period and grew its database by 8%. Its digital and social media impressions totaled 56,785,180 and 3,069,605, respectively. And although the company could not share sales data from the campaign period, it did note that it experienced “noticeable growth” in the related product categories.

Rick Beaman, a Hiland vice president, said the company is honored by the recognition, noting that it tried to make the campaign about Hiland as a company while helping the entire dairy industry.

“We tied it into the MilkPEP program, which is probably the biggest program helping the dairy industry, but we tried to take it a little bit farther and talk about protein — about needing 30 grams of protein per meal,” he said.


Honorable mention: Kemps LLC

Like Dean Foods, St. Paul, Minn.-headquartered Kemps LLC began with a MilkPEP partnership for the 2016 Olympics. But instead of tying in current and former Olympians, Kemp’s “Power Their Dreams” campaign celebrated the dreams of local U.S. Olympic hopefuls. The campaign had a local grassroots feel, Kemps said.

“Kemps proactively sought out local Olympic hopefuls and built partnerships with two athletes,” the company explained in its entry. “Kemps produced heart-warming videos profiling the training journey of Molly Kreklow, volleyball hopeful, and Marvin Kimble, gymnastic hopeful, and their families.”

The videos highlighted the important role Kemps milk plays in the athletes’ lives. And the company showed off its creative side — a TV campaign that showed Kimble performing a vault routine ditched the pommel horse in favor of the back of a cow. A strong buy in Minnesota and Wisconsin drove more than 12 million impressions with 90% reach.

Kemps also encouraged consumers to visit its Facebook page and nominate an athlete with an “inspiring story of family support and perseverance” for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Social media also played a critical role. Throughout the campaign, the Kemps brand garnered 2.9 million social media impression and more than 700,000 views on various social media platforms.

Rachel Kyllo, Kemps’ senior vice president, growth and innovation, said the company sincerely appreciates the recognition and noted that MilkPEP provides processors with strong platforms to leverage.

“We saw the Olympics sponsorship as a great opportunity to position Kemps milk as the fuel to ‘Power Their Dreams,’ she said. “Through television, social, digital and PR, we were able to deliver a strong message about the irreplaceable nutrition package in milk breakthrough Kemps brand creative.”