Campaign: MilkPEP pumps up the power of chocolate milk for athletes

Built with Chocolate Milk helped boost year-over-year sales by 11% from May to June, 2015.

Kelley O'Hara appeared in the campaign just before she played in - and helped win - the 2015 World Cup
Kelley O'Hara appeared in the campaign just before she played in - and helped win - the 2015 World Cup

Company: Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP)
Campaign: Built with Chocolate Milk
Agency mix: Weber Shandwick (PR) and Lowe Campbell Ewald (advertising)
In-house team: Julia Kadison, CEO; Katie DeGenova, senior marketing manager of content strategy; Miranda Abney, marketing director
Budget: $2.3 million-$2.6 million

Chocolate milk isn’t just a kids’ drink. It’s scientifically proven to have tremendous benefits after strenuous physical activities, and the Milk Processor Education Program’s newest initiative is out to spread that message.

The Built with Chocolate Milk campaign, which kicked off at the end of Q1 and will run through the rest of 2015, is working to "reposition chocolate milk" as a recovery beverage for serious athletes, says Miranda Abney, marketing director for MilkPEP.

In addition to positioning research behind the benefits of chocolate milk after workouts, the organization is leveraging its athlete partners to promote the effort.

"Authenticity is really key to this campaign," adds Abney. "[Our athletes] help us with that by delivering the chocolate milk message in their own words."

Elite athletes featured in the effort include Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Ironman triathlon champions Mirinda Carfrae, Craig Alexander, and Luke McKenzie. MilkPEP also teamed up with professional soccer star Kelley O’Hara just before the US women’s national team won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in June.

Leading up to and during the games, integrating content with O’Hara on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube was important, explains Hugh Williams, SVP and head of endurance sports at Weber Shandwick. The organization also created and posted a video featuring the soccer star on all of its platforms. The video garnered nearly 20,000 views in eight weeks.

When the women’s team won the World Cup on July 5, the @chocolate_milk handle tweeted a congratulatory post with a photo of O’Hara, which received more than 500 favorites and 150 retweets.

So far, Abney says the campaign has been successful in terms of engagement and ROI, with chocolate milk sales up 11% at retail from mid-May to mid-June, year over year. As the summer winds down and MilkPEP readies for back-to-school season, the group plans on reaching out to coaches about the benefits of chocolate milk for high school athletes.

MilkPEP also plans on continuing to activate across its social channels to engage consumers in real time, especially during live action sporting events, says Abney.

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