Company: National Milk Producers Federation
Campaign: Peel Back the Label’s Funny Or Die Campaign
Agency mix: Blue Engine Message & Media (PR, creative, execution)
Duration: May - July 2018
The National Milk Producers Federation created a film with Funny or Die to draw consumer and media attention to the absurdity of a company marketing a food product as "GMO-free" to help differentiate it from competitors, despite the fact that no other product in that category would ever even contain GMOs. The video was part of the federation’s Peel Back the Label campaign to combat deceptive food marketing tactics.
The National Milk Producers Federation is described on its website as "a forum through which dairy farmers and their cooperatives formulate policy on national issues that affect milk production and marketing."
The federation and its agency partner, Blue Engine Message & Media, first began crafting the idea of a humorous brand film last winter.
"One of the things we've been seeing happen in the market is that there are a lot of claims to do with what is and what isn't in products," said Chris Galen, the federation’s SVP of communications. "We created this campaign [last September] called Peel Back the Label, as a gentle but firm way to push back against some of these marketing claims involving GMOs, gluten, and dairy products."
The comedy platform Funny or Die was founded in 2007 by blockbuster star comedian Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay. National Milk Producers Federation saw Funny or Die as an ideal partner to help spread awareness of Peel Back the Label and expand reach to an audience who would not normally be exposed to its messaging.
Script development started in spring 2018, between the National Milk Producers Federation and Funny or Die.
"The goal for the video itself was to work with a recognized national partner whom we could count on for their social reach and help maximize the impact of our spend," said Galen. "The other thing was to follow-up through our own social channels."
The campaign team also developed a media outreach strategy targeting business, advertising, agriculture, and food industry reporters.
Funny or Die produced the brand video in late spring 2018.
"The shoot was a one-day production," explained Amber McDowell, a principal at Blue Engine. "Members of the Blue Engine team and National Milk Producers Federation were on-site and able to give feedback in real-time during the shoot."
Once the production ended, the campaign team stayed involved for video editing.
On May 9, the brand film debuted on Funny or Die’s social channels and through a press release issued via national news wire.
In the video, food company executive George is having trouble selling his milk, so he goes to marketing pro Marty to get advice. Marty convinces George to label his milk "GMO-free," even though both men say they know GMOs are "totally safe" and all milk is GMO-free anyway. Later in the video, at a grocery store, Marty shows George how deceptive labeling gets consumers to buy products.
"You simply bombard the consumer with meaningless claims until they are too confused and frustrated to make an informed decision, and then - profit!" the men state, while laughing together.
This all-natural video is 100% GMO-free! But @PeelBackLabel wants you to know that the all-colorful labels on your food are not telling 100% of the truth about what's in it #ad pic.twitter.com/YnQx58bwjF— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) May 9, 2018
"All of the Funny or Die activity was organic on their page with no paid push," added McDowell. "Within just a couple hours, we were over 100,000 views and that continued to grow."
Over the weeks that followed, an aggressive strategy was executed to drive further views, which included regular re-posts and short-form content derived from the video on social channels, engagement with those who interacted with the video, and ongoing "asks" of Peel Back the Label advocates to share the video with their own networks.
On May 27, the brand created a Memorial Day GIF made out of the brand film.
On June 21, the Peel Back the Label film hit 1 million views across all social platforms. The video currently has more than 1 million views on Facebook alone and garnered 47,649 reactions, comments, and shares on the platform. The video was also viewed 50,000 times across Twitter and Instagram combined, and 23,000 times on the Funny or Die website.
Although total media hits were unavailable, the campaign landed feature coverage in a variety of outlets, including AgWeb, AgWeek, Cornell’s Alliance for Science, AgWired, Dairy Herd Management, AgDaily, and Bismark Tribune.
The campaign also drew the attention of Farm Babe, a well-known farming blogger and columnist at AGDaily, who discussed the video on an agricultural-focused podcast.