Arla ploughed £10m into its Anchor brand last summer in a bid to reposition it as the only free-range option on the market.

Relaunching the brand as The Free Range Butter Company, announced in May last year, and comprising television, press, online and sampling activity, was designed to hone in on the fact that it is the only brand made using milk from cows that have a free-range lifestyle and constant access to grass.

The television commercials featured children finding out with a buttercup if someone likes butter, while press and online ads featured quirky slogans such as 'If cows were meant to be kept indoors they'd be born with slippers' and 'Sunshine, fresh air and grass, our not-so-secret recipe'.

In the past year, sales of the total Anchor brand were up 15% to £87m [Nielsen 52w/e 19 April 2008] as the effect of the strategy started to show.

"The campaign has helped to engender a bit of a Ben & Jerry's-esque feelgood factor and certainly drive a clear point of difference between Anchor and Arla sibling Lurpak," says Kate Waddell, director of consumer brands at Dragon.

"It also provides a nice catch-all for a range that goes from spreadable to standard to light, where the message has equal meaning across the whole portfolio," she adds.

But Waddell warned the strategy has also taken the brand on to several patches of thin ice.

"Firstly, as the Dairy Crest counter-campaign regarding carbon footprint suggested, if you start to play the ethical card, your other ethical credentials need to be in good shape," she says.

"Secondly, talking free-range starts to take the brand into a different competitive set - a bit more niche and up for comparison with organic or premium/artisan brands, all of which have flavour and quality credentials to play with that are perhaps more difficult to prove for a mass-market, huge global brand."

Yet Arla is pumping another £10m into advertising the brand this year.