Cheese is the cash-cow of the U.S. dairy fluid milk industry, with 85 percent of the growth coming from the cheese category.  But it’s not easy being cheesy—how does an age-old category continually reinvent the wheel to generate media interest and robust sales growth?  Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the nonprofit dairy research and marketing organization representing America’s dairy farmers, challenged Edelman Public Relations to make cheese “news” and help sell more American-made cheese.  We began by using cheese’s flavor appeal to entice people to “cave to the crave,” then milked timely food trends to create media interest.  The result?  Amid grate media coverage, cheese sales and consumption reached an all time high in 2001.


· Little known about outstanding quality or extensive variety (more than 300) of American-made cheeses
· Vast majority of American-made cheese volume is mass-produced, but media interest centers on specialty
· No hard news to deliver to media (no new major research findings, product innovations, etc.)
· Difficult to create demand in a flat category
· Antagonistic animal rights and health groups consistently promote negative cheese messages


A combination of qualitative and quantitative research was used when developing and executing the program, including:
· DDB Lifestyle Study to identify cheese lover target as primarily female, age 25-54, affluent and well-educated; and target’s lifestyle interests as heavily entertainment driven and in tune with the latest cultural news
· FOODWATCH trends analysis to help develop creative platforms for programs, such as interest in specialty cheeses and cheese courses, the return of 50’s foods including grilled cheese, and the return of the one dish meal
· Impulse Study and Market Facts omnibus surveys to add news value and guide program-related key messages

Additionally, Edelman researched industries in parallel situations (wine, coffee) to apply key learnings


· Increase trial and usage of American cheeses via multi-tiered national media campaign
· Extend reach of PR programs and achieve cost efficiencies by capitalizing on integration opportunities with other marketing disciplines and strategic partnersIncrease Web site traffic and e-newsletter subscribers via continual updates and new, interactive Web features

· Create news by identifying and defining new trends, products and recipes with cheese that anticipate consumers’ needs
· De-mystify complexities of cheese by romanticizing unique character of American-made cheeses
· Capitalize on taste appeal
· Build awareness, trial of different varieties
· Provide new usage ideas, quick tips and seasonal ideas and recipes


From conducting a series of timely publicity efforts, to integrating with marketing and strategic partners as much as possible, we gave consumers lots of reasons to say, “Cheese please!” throughout the year.

Flights: Changing the “Course” of Cheese
Showcased breadth and depth of American-made artisanal cheeses via editor’s event at Artisanal, New York’s newest restaurant devoted to cheese

Delivered cheese key messages via leading American cheese authority Laura Werlin to attending key influencers:
· 48 media, including top epicurean magazines, five of the largest women’s magazines and other high profile publications, including Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Rosie, Woman’s Day, New York Times and Parade Magazine
· Chefs/cheese masters from other high profile restaurants, such as Tru and Picholine
· Key retail brokers and distributors who sell cheese to restaurants and grocery stores

Developed Cheese Pairing Guide, an easy, fun tool to educate consumers on 12 basic cheeses, qualities and wine and food pairings and posted interactive version on Web site

Created Virtual Cheese Case on to profile 35 cheeses’ texture, taste, complementary foods, recipes and similar varieties to help educate consumers on quality and varieties of American cheeses

Generated more than 132 MILLION media impressions to date, including:
· High profile placements in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and news syndicates Knight Ridder, King Features and Gannett, helping to kick-start the “cult of cheese”
· Long lead stories in Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Jane, with many others slated for 2002

Grilled Cheese Contest Kick-off and Winner’s Announcement with Mr. Food
· Declared April National Grilled Cheese Month to create news hook for promoting contest, recipes and tips
· Generated more than 1,000 entries and more than 103 MILLION media impressions

Simply American One Dish Wonders
· Secured 5 reputable chefs known to utilize regional ingredients to promote simple one dish recipes featuring regional ingredients and three kinds of cheese
· Capitalized on comfort food trend for second wave of publicity post 9/11, including the Early ShowGenerated more than 36 MILLION media impressions to date

News Bureau
· News bureau efforts utilized timely party tips and cheese recipes for Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo, and positioned cheese as an ideal holiday gift while promoting the first-ever shopping links on
· Combined news bureau impressions totaled nearly 63 MILLION to date

· Worked with DMI’s advertising agency to negotiate 12 advertorial placements in top-tier consumer publications, including Bon Appetit, Better Homes & Gardens and Redbook, reaching 158.5 MILLION 
· Content mirrored PR programs, while adapting tone to each magazine’s readers
· Worked with DMI’s retail agency to coordinate printing and distribution of Cheese Pairing Guide to an additional
· 1 million consumers
· Developed relationship with Fetzer Vineyards that resulted in printing and distribution of additional 75,000 Cheese Pairing Guides at no cost to DMI, as well as wine donation for Cheese Flights event
· Coordinated first-ever Web site shopping links from with five cheese retailers/producers in conjunction with Gift of U.S. Cheese PR program, resulting in 62 percent of gift page visitors clicking through to retailer links and an average of $53 in sales per completed order


Creative, strategic PR programs targeting cheese lovers achieved udderly amazing results:
· Helped DMI meet business goal of increasing cheese consumption to 30 pounds per person by 2001
· 2001 domestic sales exceeded 8.5 billion pounds, with retail sales approaching $10 billion
· Cheese retail sales increased by 6 percent while other grocery categories remained flat
· Achieved nearly 364 MILLION impressions—exceeding the goal of 253 million by 44 percent
· Broadcast:  78.1 MILLION, reaching goal of 78 million
· Print:  285.7 MILLION, surpassing goal of 175 million by 63 percent
· Bon Appetit, Associated Press, Weekend Today and other big hitters all declared cheese the trend of the year
Extended reach of PR program through integration/partnerships to additional 160 MILLION people, and achieved more than $1.2 MILLION dollars in savings/added value

Increased average Web site monthly visitors and e-newsletter subscribers by more than 25 percent

Average monthly visitors increased by 28 percent from 29,281 in 2000 to 37,626 in 2001

Obtained 2,600 new e-newsletter subscribers for a total of 12,588 - a 26 percent increase from 2000

Achieved 524 million impressions overall and a cost per thousand (CPM) of just $2.87