Commentary

Organic Valley's Paid Media Evolution

The Challenge

Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative in 34 states producing primarily diary, but also eggs and produce, was finally hitting a point of breakthrough in awareness. It was time, said Tripp Hughes, Sr. Director of Consumer Strategy, Organic Valley, to "get the brand out there, to establish the brand."

The Execution

A few years ago, Organic Valley partnered with a media agency and a creative agency to produce "viral breakthroughs, which was a big thing a while ago," Hughes said. "Our first foray was an episode called Save the Bros. We got out there, we got 5 million organic views. Then we switched gears," to go viral-plus. Working with its media partners, it had folks out there sharing it. It was put in front of the right target audiences." But it wasn't selling product.

Next, they tried putting the pedal to the metal with their Organic Balance, which is targeted for morning consumption on a grab 'n' go basis. Hughes said they surveyed 2,000 women and, instead of telling the brand's story, the ad told the women's story. "The media metrics were great," he said, but sales at retail not so much. "We blamed it on the product being too new. Then they turned to Organic Valley's Half & Half and produced a cool commercial by bringing a dairy farmer to New York to open an Organic Valley Half & Half store, where consumers just added coffee. "Again, metrics were knocked out of the park but we weren't scaling up the way we needed to."

So, they got serious. "We put together a plan, targeted key markets a year and a half ago, launched in Seattle, Portland and Miami." This time, they were determined to get the brand story out and not focus on the product. "We optimized it, there were a lot of learnings, great creative, ability to target, scale."

And they went national, driving purchase intent and got the sales team interested. The brand used traditional broadcast, cable, digital, Hulu, and social. Combined with guidance from Nielsen, they fine-tuned their pitch. This time, they put Fitbits on cows to monitor their daily steps.

"The feedback is all about the humanization that goes on with animals, lots of holistic stuff going on. We worked down the funnel, targeting and retargeting. At the end of day," Hughes said, they had a long video about how it all started in "Nowhere," Wisconsin. They moved it across all touchpoints and built a focused campaign.

The Results

  • Awareness was up 35%
  • Consideration was up 154%
  • Purchase intent rose 155%
  • Recommendation rose 89%


Key Takeaways

Make good use of trial and error.

Go back to the numbers, the basics.

Listen to what management is talking about (show me the money)

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