Were y'all aware that an organization called The Innovation Center For U.S. Dairy exists… and that it is AWESOME? Its minders are out there innovatin' and inventin' and proselytizin' and whatnot, fighting Big Nutrition wherever it would seek to deprive schoolkids of their constitutional right to pizza. In fact, they've got this one initiative where they're just slapping cheese on everything - fish, coffee cake, nectarines, you name it - and being all like, "Yo, who's getting his RDA of calcium now, beee-yatch?" They don't merely tolerate lactose; they celebrate every stealth-sugary kernel of its being.
Or not. Even by the standards of industry-advocate groups, which aren't exactly known for their duende, the Innovation Center For U.S. Dairy comes across as dry and wonky in its every public utterance. Which is why I'm thrilled, and a little bit confused, to announce that a public-facing campaign that the organization has something or other to do with - DairyGood.org, which seeks to lift the veil that shrouds the dairy industry's promotion of nutritional dairy goodness - actually gets the online-video thing right.
I learned about the campaign via a banner ad on my favorite liberal/Marxist daily check-in and was curious enough about the premise to click through. What I discovered was a sprinkling of muted rallying cries ("dairy farmers have a long heritage as responsible stewards of the land, air and water") and information that shouldn't be news to anyone who places food into his mouth on a semi-regular basis, much less anyone who plies his trade in the dairy biz ("milk and milk products deliver nine essential nutrients to children and adults, promoting good health and well-being throughout all stages of life"). Little of the info conveyed elicits a reaction beyond "yup, they covered that in third-grade health class" or "what a bold rhetorical stroke, steering clear of the debate over recombinant bovine growth hormone."
But I found the site's news page moderately enlightening, mostly for the old-fashioned way that it frames its arguments. I'm sure the Innovation Center could've hired a brand-tested director to give its videos a commercial sheen and a self-anointed social media expert to beam them to the overconnected masses. Instead, it just plops a bunch of clips on a single page and hopes the viewer has the intellectual wherewithal to process them.
It's a compilation, basically; no real strategy is involved, though it likely took some small amount of insight to pick the brainy academic person over the hemp-cloth'd self-sustainist. What we get, then, is a professor weighing in on the challenges of feeding our growing population; Lauren Bush Lauren noting the increased awareness of issues related to food security; folks from Feeding America and the National Dairy Council talking about a joint initiative to prompt Americans to reach for milk rather than Four Loko; and a bunch of dairy farmers plain-speaking about their work, families and unabashed love of cows.
Nothing here will go viral - and that's probably the point. The Innovation Center might want the awareness booster shot a flashy campaign often administers, but mostly it wants its audiences to understand its agenda and empathize with the plight of American dairy farmers. By resisting the temptation to gussy up an issue and profession that needs no gussyin' - up, down or otherwise - it achieves both those goals. In terms of effective advocacy, any number of organizations and consumer brands can learn from the straightforwardness of the DairyGood approach.