A chief cheese officer? How a PR firm came up with a new role to promote Farm Rich

‘Cheese boy’ Phil Roberts gives PRWeek a sneak peek at his plans for the company.

A chief cheese officer? How a PR firm came up with a new role to promote Farm Rich

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA: “He’s a little over-the-top with his love for cheese,” warns Lisa Roberts, about her husband, Phil Roberts, in a winning entry video that propelled him into the role of frozen snack brand Farm Rich’s chief cheese officer.

For 45 days starting this month, Roberts is working in the newly created position. He gets a $5,000 stipend, plus a three-day trip to St. Simons Island, Georgia, where Farm Rich is headquartered. He’ll also meet and brainstorm with the brand team and tour the Farm Rich manufacturing facility in Brunswick, Georgia. Most tasty of all, Roberts gets a year’s worth of free Farm Rich cheese snacks, along with plenty of prize swag.

Hailing from Kingsport, Tennessee, Roberts will balance his responsibilities as chief cheese officer with his day job: assistant to the president for seminary development at Milligan University.  

More than 1,500 people sent in submissions for the role. But Roberts’ video stood out. The documentary-style, tongue-in-cheek video includes his parents, wife and four children discussing Roberts’ adoration of cheese to the point that he was called “Cheese Boy'' as a child and even named each of his kids after a different kind of cheese. The video has a fake movie trailer that Roberts created for a film about “saving the world from a plot against the cheese supply,” inspired by an episode of The Office in which Michael Scott creates his own action film, Roberts told PRWeek. 

“[Roberts] met and exceeded all of the criteria and the amount of time, originality and creativity he put into his entry video, which was optional, was just incredible,” said Farm Rich director of marketing Ciera Womack. She added that he has been “so energetic and passionate” in the role. 

Farm Rich’s PR firm, Creative Communications Consultants, suggested a search for a chief cheese officer this year.

“They thought it would be a fun way to showcase National Cheese Day [on June 4] and create a promotion our fans could really have fun with,” said Womack. “So we kicked off our first chief cheese officer search on that day.

The brand launched the search via social media and email marketing to Farm Rich’s fan base. It amplified the campaign to a broader audience through earned media, with hits on Southern Living, Thrillist, MSN, Yahoo and industry sites such as Frozen Foods Biz and Grocery Insight.

The brand also wanted to make the unprecedented hire to gain consumer perspective and fun ideas, said Womack. Farm Rich’s cheese products, such as its mozzarella sticks, mozzarella bites and cheddar cheese curds, have a “really passionate following,” she said, noting that the chief cheese officer will help to showcase Farm Rich’s “cheese legacy,” Womack said.

Roberts said he applied for the “CCO” job because he thought it would be a “neat experience” and “a lot of fun,” and he is already cooking up some ideas for the company, such as implementing a “cheese-themed holiday.”

“Mozzarella sticks are something you got at restaurants until Farm Rich brought them to the masses in the frozen-food section,” he said. “So maybe we will highlight this with a holiday called ‘Mozzapendence Day,’ to celebrate the day regular people started being able to make their own mozzarella sticks.” 

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