Wednesday 21 August 2019

Michael Cullen: Dairy Council delivers natural ad campaign

Dairy Council chief Zoe Kavanagh has a long-term plan to engage with millennials
Dairy Council chief Zoe Kavanagh has a long-term plan to engage with millennials

Michael Cullen

The National Dairy Council (NDC) has a new ad campaign flowing from the credo: 'Irish dairy, the complete natural'. Following in-depth studies, the NDC noted a major discrepancy in its marketing communications. Young female consumers age 20-29 were simply not getting the message as to why dairy plays such a key part in maintaining a healthy diet.

NDC chief executive Zoe Kavanagh says not only do young mothers make food choices for themselves and their family, they share facts and figures with their contemporaries and exert influence on nutrition beyond purchases. The NDC asked itself: how well do they know twenty-something women waiting in the wings? Research agency B&A was asked to do 1,000 interviews.

An Post’s sales and marketing director Liam Sheehan, who is leaving after 17 years
An Post’s sales and marketing director Liam Sheehan, who is leaving after 17 years

General feedback was positive. Ireland is second only to Finland in Europe for milk consumption, with 99pc penetration. The average Irish household consumes 6.5 litres of milk a week. Milk, yogurt and cheese have around 2pc annual growth. Three out of four consumers see Irish dairy farming as positive due to our grass-based system, with cows out in the fields for about 300 days in the year. It explains why Irish butter has a rich yellow hue.

Health is the main motivation for dairy consumers, with men scoring 72pc, while women were on 65pc. "We discovered millennial women are taking the scenic route to adulthood - in more ways than one," Kavanagh told AdLib. "As they try and manage their weight, millennials are likely to choose alternatives to dairy." Previs Consulting provided feedback for NDC on young women's changing attitudes to dairy in Ireland today.

In a bid to answer further questions, NDC conducted 60 interviews with future mothers, 15 of them face-to-face and 45 in focus groups. Millennial women are for the most part 'independent dependants' - young people with disposable income living at home who seek out new life experiences and are high users of digital and social media.

Bad science and urban myths about dairy's fat levels, allergies and lactose intolerance didn't help as millennials opt for trendy almond milk lattes and gluten-free foods. Yet, Kavanagh insists, there's a nutritional price to pay for twenty-something women avoiding a food high in protein, calcium and micronutrients. "Milk is the best recovery drink after exercise and it's good for muscle tone, teeth and for strengthening hair and nails," she added.

Kavanagh hopes that the new strategy will help steer millennials in a new direction. The NDC is funded through Ireland's dairy farmers. The 'Complete Natural' campaign is part of the European Milk Forum's (EMF) 'Milk Moments' drive across eight international markets. Using Kick Communications and IPG Mediabrands, NDC's €500,000 pre-Christmas out-of-home and digital campaign will be followed next year with a €1m splash.

Fronting the ads is 'spokes-toddler' Daisy. Event Fuel was hired for experiential ideas. NDC has opened a new pop-up milk bar on Dublin's South William Street. "The campaign is about dairy being authentic," Kavanagh says. "We want to be trusted by women millennials - tomorrow's mums. It won't happen overnight. After three to five years, we'd want to have won over 75pc of the market. Ultimate success is probably 10 years down the road."


  • Sky is reviewing its media buying in Ireland as part of a wider pitch process in the UK, Germany, Austria and its newest market, Spain. As Sky is ranked as Britain's top advertiser with a spend of £300m, it is set to be the biggest UK media review ever. Sky considered a review last year, but put it on hold because of the planned takeover by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

    In Ireland, Nielsen ranked Sky as the top advertiser last year with a media spend of over €24.5m. For the most part, the account in the UK, Ireland and Spain is handled by GroupM's MediaCom, whose Dublin office is headed up by Peter McPartlin. Dentsu Aegis Network's iProspect handles paid search.

    All the top agency groups are expected to pitch, with the exception of Omnicom as it handles Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media, across Europe. The review process is due to be finalised by next spring. Sky's main rival, BT, reviewed its media last year and consolidated its spend with WPP's Maxus. Breaking news, live Premier League football and mini-series like 'Game of Thrones', 'Tin Star' and 'The Deuce' are reasons for Sky's success.
  • After 17 years at An Post, most recently as sales and marketing director, Liam Sheehan is leaving the company to pursue other business interests. The Cork man and Munster rugby fan joined An Post from Erin Foods. Prior to that, he worked with Diageo for 14 years.
  • In adland, Lidl has moved to BBDO. Sister Omnicom agency, TBWA, also contested for the business. Irish Rail has retained Publicis to handle its creative advertising after a review which included BBDO.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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