Two of the biggest brands in the non-standard and milk alternative sector, Alpro and Cravendale, have been marketing themselves heavily on TV in recent weeks.
Early last month, Alpro unveiled a reworked version of a previous TV ad telling us 'that's got to be good for everyone' to the tune of Natural Woman. This (alongside a small amount of press advertising) represents a £304,174 spend by Alpro in the four weeks to 2 November, more than nine times the amount it spent in the period last year. Indeed, so far this year, it has spent more than three times as much as it did in January to October 2007.
Meanwhile Cravendale spent more than £400,000, up 77% year-on-year in the four-week period. While Alpro has taken a traditional route to advertising, Cravendale's campaign takes a strikingly different tack. If its previous campaign, So Good The Cows Want It Back, was refreshingly different, its most recent creative is even more so.
The Milk Matters campaign was launched more than a year ago and follows a toy cyclist, a toy cow and a toy pirate in a series of obsessive pursuits for fresh milk.
The ads are unlike anything else in the sector with their surreal humour and consumer interaction. They encourage viewers to join in online at www.milkmatters.co.uk, a site that offers original and interactive features including a pirate radio station, wallpapers and ringtones, and a Gran Slam competition to name a Super Gran.
The ads have generated considerable consumer interest. Google searches for Cravendale are sharply up in the wake of the TV ads. The advertising has also had a halo effect on branded and own-label variants across the category. Of course, Cravendale will have to continue to differentiate itself now competition has arrived from Tesco pure-filtered milk and other retailers are set to follow. A fresh push by Robert Wiseman Dairies for its One brand is also on the cards.
But with the market also expected to be shaken up by a Food Standards Agency campaign highlighting the dangers of saturated fat, non-standard 'milks' could be poised for further change.