California Milk Advisory Board
Real California Cheese
This case was written by Professor Michelle Greenwald, Visiting Professor at HEC, Paris, for use with Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective – 7th edition by George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch. It is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation.
In 1982, faced with declining milk consumption and a surplus of milk production, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) ...view middle of the document...
Cheese production was viewed an excellent growth opportunity as it takes approximately ten pounds of raw milk to make one pound of cheese. It was also more profitable to produce. Because of the higher price per pound and greater density of cheese versus other dairy products, it could be transported economically and thus had the greatest potential for sales in other geographic areas. The SRI study recommended that California’s dairies focus on retail (mass grocery and specialty food stores), foodservice (restaurants), and food manufacturing (prepared or frozen foods).
One of the first steps taken by the CMAB to implement its new strategic direction was to create a distinct and compelling identity that would be the focal point of an integrated marketing communications program. The challenge facing the CMAB was that it needed to represent a wide range of products from many different producers. The CMAB created the Real California Cheese (RCC) seal as a certification mark that could be used to identify natural cheese made in California from California milk. By doing so, the CMAB has been able to promote many varieties of cheese from cheese makers who qualify for and use the seal on their packaging.
The RCC seal that was created depicts the image of California with a rising sun and rolling plains, on a golden, cheddar cheese-colored background. The seal assures consumers that the cheese they are purchasing is natural and is made in California, exclusively from California milk. The seal has been placed on applicable cheese packages, in all forms of advertising, on all RCC coupons and point-of-sale materials, and even on restaurant menus and table tents. Placement of the seal in all of these communication elements reinforces the message and maximizes awareness of the certification mark.
The CMAB has relied on advertising to promote Real California Cheese since 1985. Between 1985 and 1995, several ad campaigns were run in California to promote RCC that used television and radio advertising, as well as newspaper, magazine and outdoor executions. The campaigns were also supported by extensive consumer and trade promotion activity. However, in 1995 the CMAB decided to take a more emotional approach in its advertising as it wanted consumers’ affinity for Real California Cheese to be more emotionally based. The CMAB felt that it was difficult to differentiate its products based on rational superiority claims and decided that the focus should be on creating an emotional bond with consumers and affection for Real California Cheese. From 1995 to 2000, the CMAB ran a very popular campaign using the tagline “It’s the Cheese” which made humorous exaggerated claims suggesting that the real reason people come to California is because of the cheese. The campaign presented a simple positioning message that “California cheese is great cheese.” However, after running the campaign for five years the CMAB decided that...