Through It All, We Never Wavered from Sales, Trust Goals

Beth Engelmann, Chief Marketing Communications Officer Dairy Management Inc.

Beth Engelmann

The disruption we’ve experienced due to COVID-19 has caused a monumental shift – in consumer behavior and lifestyles, in the demands on both commercial and institutional channels, and in the supply chains that take dairy products to market.

Despite new realities, the dairy checkoff never wavered from its mission of driving sales and building trust. What the last few months have taught us, however, is the importance of adapting to change and finding new ways to continue succeeding in market.

Four high-level trends and developments are guiding our marketing plan for the rest of this year and into 2021:

  • Home is the new hub – consumers’ lives, entertainment, schooling and work now intersect, with home being the central connection
  • Blending of channels – traditional channels like retail, foodservice and school are blending and evolving as individuals and families become more digitally adept while seeking more options to do more within the home
  • Digital-first mentality – a digitally-enabled world is expected and the norm
  • Purpose over profit – social responsibility continues to increasingly become an expectation of doing business among brands, companies and industries

Your checkoff’s back-half marketing plan weaves in elements of each of these insights and leverages a growing number of partnerships to grow sales and trust. At its core is the narrative that dairy farmers are, and have always been, essential to producing nutritious food while taking care of the planet, its people and communities.

In the first three quarters, we captured attention for dairy via more than 1,800 media placements in broadcast, online and social for a total of 1.5 billion impressions. Here is a look at what Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) will deliver in these remaining months to continue the momentum:

Fuel Up to Play 60 Homeroom – dairy’s footprint in more than 73,000 U.S. schools is strong, thanks to Fuel Up to Play 60 done in partnership with the NFL. Our challenge was finding a way to maximize this program in a socially-distanced world where for many students, teachers and parents, e-learning became the new normal. So, we launched Fuel Up to Play 60 Homeroom, which features new content and a deep bank of resources created by local and national checkoff teams. The materials, also promoted through Discovery Education, include virtual farm field trips hosted by dairy farmers, student stories of making a positive impact in communities, dairy-centric recipes and videos from NFL players touting the importance of eating well and staying active.

Home Fridge Advantage – one of the biggest shifts these past few months includes more Americans cooking at home. As a result, recipes are in high demand and our site has become a go-to resource as families grapple with the “what’s for dinner?” dilemma. In fact, we have experienced a significant spike in traffic to our recipe section since COVID-19 started! We also know there is interest in what others eat. This led to our NFL-inspired “Home Fridge Advantage” program where we pair players with cultural influencers to find out what’s behind their fridge door. Dairy will play an “MVP” role in videos of these fridge encounters, which will be shared at and through NFL channels. True to our mission of addressing food insecurity, we also will award refrigerators filled with dairy and gift cards to people in need as the holidays near.

National Farmers Day – this is the perfect occasion to more broadly – and loudly – communicate our industry-wide sustainability goals and the progress dairy farmers have long been making in taking care of their land. We’ll highlight that dairy farmers have always been committed to the planet and assuring its health for future generations. This effort will include a multimedia push in major news outlets featuring stories and advertisements as well as video content that tells the journey of U.S. dairy. We also will continue to elevate dairy’s voice at high-impact events, including the World Economic Forum and global food and sustainability conferences.

Continued Community Commitment – as a celebration and reinforcement of dairy farmers’ commitment to communities, we will round out the fall on Nov. 11 with a special set of activations with new and existing partners that will highlight dairy farmers’ support of local communities and, specifically, veterans and their families.

Expansion of Partnerships – we continue to partner with established leaders in the food and beverage space and are expanding those partnerships to drive sales and build trust for dairy. Two recent examples include:

  • Dairy plays a strong role in special moments and brings some joy and comfort when we all need it most. Another longtime checkoff partner – McDonald’s – joined America’s dairy farmers to acknowledge this year’s missed birthday parties, while celebrating 25 years of the chain’s iconic McFlurry. DMI teamed with McDonald’s for an integration on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” featuring the “McFlurry 25th B-Day Suit” on Sept. 24. Corden credited “America’s dairy farmers” while expressing his passion for the McFlurry to more than 5 million consumers in traditional and social media.

  • DMI and Subway share something in common: a partnership with the NFL. In fact, at the league’s suggestion, we met with Subway and found common ground around children’s health and wellness goals. Subway was particularly impressed with Fuel Up to Play 60 and we joined forces on two programs, at no additional cost to dairy farmers. First, the chain launched the “Tackle Hunger” endeavor through its Subway Cares program. Subway Cares allows customers to add to their purchase for local causes. The franchises will use these donations for GENYOUth’s fund to provide school meals and feeding efforts from now through Nov. 30. Nationwide in-store signage features America’s dairy farmers, Fuel Up to Play 60 and Undeniably Dairy. Second, Subway will unveil “60-cent 6-inch Sundays” to students who display their Fuel Up to Play 60 “Healthy Habits Tracker.” The subs can have cheese and a serving of Shamrock Farms milk added. Subway menus in all 21,000 stores will feature milk messages and Fuel Up to Play 60 and Undeniably Dairy logos. The promotion runs early October to Dec. 31.

Test and Learn Opportunity – as we continue adapting to a changing environment, we are activating some existing pilot programs to learn and evolve our work, providing a runway for 2021. One such opportunity focuses on sustainability, a topic we know youth are passionate about. So, we are launching a pilot to engage with Gen Z – a distinct and highly influential generation that cares about and wants to know more about where their food comes from and is heavily engaged in gaming. The pilot will enable top gaming influencers to virtually visit dairy farms to learn about farmers’ commitment to caring for the land and their sustainable and innovative practices. They will then share their new understanding of where their food comes from and how it’s responsibly produced with their followers by recreating sustainable farm practices in the virtual world of Minecraft.

The dairy checkoff is poised to maximize this new normal with a far-reaching, integrated plan that highlights dairy as vital to meeting modern wellness needs, raising the bar on environmentally friendly agriculture and playing a critical role in strong communities. We’re confident this bold, always-on plan will set dairy up for success this year and into 2021.

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Farmer Group on Facebook. To reach us directly, send an email to

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