Spoof dairy marketing campaign given scrumptious revamp

The spoof dairy marketing campaign ups the ante with its pro messages

Veganuary might be over, but brace yourself because you’ve fallen straight into the middle of the Twitter storm that is #Februdairy.

First, a definition. Februdairy will be a month of dairy celebrations, launched by livestock sustainability consultant Jude Capper, with the intent of flooding social media with positive messages. It also sees the Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs (formerly the Department of Dairy Related Wholesome Affairs) milking it as the campaign ups the ante on its pro-dairy spoof public service announcements.

#Februdairy is the latest in a series of hashtags used by the industry in a bid to re-engage Generation Y, who are deserting dairy in their droves. Previous hashtags include #Legendairy and #ProudofDairy, which were both jumped on by the vegan lobby. In what seems a masochistic move, the industry is back for more punishment and, unsurprisingly, #Februdairy is already coming in for the same treatment with animal rights activists hijacking the narrative on social media.

But the dairy industry has taken some long overdue action that could help it fight back. Last month’s Semex conference in Glasgow saw the announcement of both Februdairy and an online toolkit called Tell It Like It Is.

dairy infographic

The latter, from Dairy UK and AHDB Dairy, is an online resource designed to enable farmers to engage with their consumer base and promote the health benefits of dairy.

And now #tellitlikeitis has also been bombarded with anti-dairy messages. The emojis and cartoon infographics provided by Tell It Like It Is are being drowned out by graphic and hugely emotive posts claiming to show farmers mistreating animals. As the old adage goes, if it bleeds, it leads, and that certainly seems to be the message on Twitter right now.

Meanwhile, the £1.2m Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs has appointed social media influencers with a reach of millions to roles such as directors of cheese (separate offices for soft and hard), chief yoghurt officer and head of butter, though the all-important minister for milk position remains vacant.

While lighthearted, the campaign does little to address the concerns flagged by the anti-dairy lobby, nor are young people known for responding to authority, so whether ‘ministry’ satire speaks louder than anti-dairy fire and brimstone remains to be seen.

Perhaps we could learn some lessons from the Irish dairy industry. The Irish National Dairy Council launched #TheCompleteNatural campaign in November. It took the fight to the vegan lobby with the bold claim that milk is a plant-based drink, given that Irish cows are grass fed. Despite the tidal wave of criticism that particular ad came in for, #TheCompleteNatural seems to have survived largely unscathed. It focuses on provenance, health, and offers recipe ideas alongside a launch attended by reality TV stars. Overall, it seems a pretty down-to-earth way to target millennials.

So can the UK dairy trade follow the lead of the Irish and get its message across to a social media-savvy generation? The industry needs to go into Februdairy with its eyes open, and make full use of the new tools available if it has any hope of reclaiming the narrative.

Let’s all hope the Veganuary and Februdairy teams can reconcile over a cone of chips when March becomes Starch.