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The “happy cows” campaign and the Real California Cheese seal were developed for the California Milk Advisory Board to promote real California cheese. It implemented an integrated message using multiple channels and promotional techniques. These techniques were used in multiple ways to support and build a strong brand image. CMAB used an integrated marketing communications perspective to accomplish its goals. Through evaluation and modification of its strategy, CMAB created a strong brand for the California cheese producers. The campaign was revolutionary and vastly successful.
The real California cheese campaign uses many tools to create a full-range of promotion. Advertising was the initial method CMAB used to promote its products and image. The advertising was placed on television, radio, newspaper, magazines, and outdoor locations (Greenwald, 2009). This initial advertising focused on rational claims of superiority to promote California cheese. This was successful, but the CMAB felt an emotional approach would have more effect. From 1995 to 2000 CMAB used the phrase “it’s the cheese” in commercials to create the initial emotional connection for consumers (Greenwald, 2009). This campaign was also successful, but was only used for a few years (Greenwald, 2009).
In 2000, CMAB used Deutsch LA advertising agency to come up with a new advertising approach (Greenwald, 2009). They came up with the slogan “Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” (Greenwald, 2009). This was the beginning of the current day multi-faceted approach. The slogan was paired with content, happy cow characters, which became very popular. They were featured in humorous commercials, radio ads, and bill boards. They were later used in the webpage to connect real California cheese to the Real California Cheese seal.
This campaign was successful mainly because of the cow characters and the image they presented. The characters are lovable and humorous. They represent a care-free happy lifestyle which many of us aspire to. The cows are easy to relate to, and very unique. These unique characters make the California cheese slogan stick out in the minds of consumers.
The Real California Cheese seal was created as the initial means of marketing a distinct identity for the California Cheese brand (Greenwald, 2009). This seal was used to identify real California cheese products. This seal appeared on packages and in advertisements, as well as on menus and other in-house promotional tools in stores and restaurants (Greenwald, 2009). This seal was instrumental in connecting the image of real California cheese being portrayed in ads to the diverse lines of products being promoted. This seal was essential to the success of the campaign. It has become a well-known mark of quality, which attracts many consumers.
The Real California Cheese seal was paired with the happy cow characters in advertisements to promote Real California Cheese. These eye-catching, attention grabbing commercials were used to establish an identity and personality for the Real California Cheese brand. The commercials portrayed a happy environment, where quality is produced. The advertising was successful in communicating this message to consumers. The CMAB had to promote all products uniformly and without bias. That was the main challenge faced in creating the campaign. The advertising campaign was a successful approach to promoting all types of real California cheese and their producers.
The paring of the Real California Cheese seal with the “happy cows” characters is a continuing success. The characters are now well-known in the minds of consumers. The commercials continue to evolve by introducing new reasons why the cows are happy. Each commercial has a fresh perspective. I think the recognizable and the familiar cow characters bring continued success to the campaign. This advertising campaign can be used indefinitely, as long as new humorous scenarios are implemented.
Advertising was a good choice due to its persuasive nature, product differentiation abilities, and its ability to build brands (Belch & Belch, 2009). The con to advertising is that there is potential for failure in communicating the intended message to consumers. The “happy cows” campaign was well designed, and therefore communicated the value of the brand effectively.
To create brand awareness, consumer promotion was implemented along with the advertising campaign. The consumer promotion techniques reinforce and supplement trade promotion, advertising, ad public relations by creating a demand-pull effect. The original plan promoted RCC in-store, to connect the product to the advertising campaign. As consumer interest increased, cross-promotion coupons were placed on complimentary food products in retail stores (Greenwald, 2009). The in-store promotional materials were then phased out. This was done because cross-promotion coupons are a more cost effective and successful promotional technique than POS promotion.
Public relations played a significant role in CMAB’s integrated marketing communications program. Its goal was to extend the brand image to consumers, professionals, and influential individuals in the food industry (Greenwald, 2009). Different types of media targeted different segments. Recipes were placed in newspapers, magazines, and other publications (Greenwald, 2009). Press stories about the farms and cheese produced in California were published. These were the most successful in reaching all market segments.
Another angle used by CMAB was the presence of real California Cheese representatives at trade shows. Information and samples were distributed to all types of individuals. Targets reached by this method included consumers, fine restaurants, specialty stores, gourmet cheese stores, chefs, and media professionals (Greenwald, 2009).
To pull all of these marketing tools together and provide support and reinforcement, CMAB created the Real California Cheese website. This website is maintained by the Deutsch LA, the company in charge of creating the advertising campaigns for CMAB (Greenwald, 2009). The website has information about Real California Cheese. On the site, individuals can watch a multitude of “happy cows” commercials, see a map of real California cheese producers, and buy “happy cow” & RCC merchandise. A line of merchandise was created based on the “happy cow” advertising campaign, and the RCC seal. It includes talking plush cows, T-shirts, images with the cow characters & their phrases, cookbooks, other apparel, and watches with the RCC seal (Greenwald, 2009). The website also showcases some of the many cheeses the seal represents, which can be purchased through the site.
CMAB was successful because it evaluated and modified its IMC program. This evaluation was conducted using multiple marketing metrics. Internal and external evaluations were used. CMAB used internal evaluations in that it looked at was the strengths and weaknesses of the brand itself. One major weakness was the lack of presence of the Real California Cheese brand in the market and the minds of the consumers. CMAB evaluated its advertising approach. As a result, CMAB shifted from a logical approach to an emotional approach.
CMAB also used external evaluation tactics. The organization looked at statistics on consumers, market segments, and competitors. Through this research, it was found that the best avenue to remedy the milk surplus situation was to implement a cheese-promoting program. The demographics of their consumers showed that the cheese consumption was higher-than-average in California, and that 80% of that cheese was being supplied by sources external from the state (Greenwald, 2009). Of the metrics used by CMAB to evaluate their integrated marketing communications, I think the external evaluation on consumers’ milk product consuming habits and the sources of those products was the most significant and the key to the success of their plan. This was a very inclusive evaluation, and I feel that all relative areas were covered by their research.
There are changes in trends occurring in California. The demographics of the population are changing (Greenwald, 2009). The Hispanic population is growing, which is a subset of the population that consumes a large amount of cheese (Greenwald, 2009). Demographics of the consumer population are an indicator of the products consumers will purchase. There is a dietary shift as well. Consumers are becoming more conscientious of the food they consume. Diets and natural food products are becoming more popular (Greenwald, 2009). As a result of these shifts, the California cheese industry should pursue an organic and an all natural line of products. This would attract more consumers from inside and outside of the state.
The “happy cows” campaign and the Real California Cheese seal were developed for the California Milk Advisory Board to promote real California cheese. It implemented an integrated message using multiple channels and promotional techniques. These techniques were used in multiple ways to support and build a strong brand image. CMAB used an integrated marketing communications perspective to accomplish its goals. Through evaluation and modification of its strategy, CMAB created a strong brand for the California cheese producers. The campaign was revolutionary and vastly successful. It has ensured the success of the milk and cheese producers in California for years to come. It also made Real California Cheese an international brand name able to compete in foreign markets.
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