The UK Cheese Makers Association was originally set up in 1995 as a
lobbying organisation with a focus on developing export links. However,
qualitative research carried out by Nidus Research in August 1996
highlighted the requirement for a more domestic generic approach.
The British Cheese Board was subsequently formed in March 1997 to
address growing consumer interest. It has 27 member companies which
produce over 50 per cent of the cheese made in Britain.
To launch the BCB to trade and consumer media and form links with
Harrison Cowley used the recent research as a platform for launching the
association it had inspired. The survey which was carried out among
eight groups of eight people from socio-economic groups BC1C2 between
the ages of 25 to 45, revealed that 98 per cent of the UK population
enjoys eating cheese. It also showed that consumers acitvely looking to
reduce fat will generally look at other avenues of reduction before
cutting out cheese ,or refuse to compromise on taste by buying low fat
cheese. The research also showed that BSE is not a problem in the
consumer’s mind when it comes to dairy products.
’We knew we needed a strong defence on this issue which is why research
was important,’ says Harrison Cowley group board director Paul
Armed with the research findings, Harrison Cowley scheduled a launch at
the Lanesborough Hotel in London in April, aiming at opinion
As well as trade and consumer media, cheese buyers from the supermarkets
and representatives from influential bodies such as MAFF and the
National Dairy Council were invited. Findings from the initial research
were presented, plus further research on the mature cheddar market. TV
chef Gary Rhodes was brought in to give a presentation highlighting the
versatility of cheese as a source of protein and healthy meat
On 28 April a press release announcing the formation of the BCB and
highlighting results from the research was issued to trade and consumer
Trade titles covering the launch included the Grocer and Supermarketing,
and there were radio interviews on BBC Radio Bristol and Somerset
Harrison Cowley says it is too early for articles to have appeared in
consumer titles because of the long lead times, although it has targeted
women’s magazines with editorial, promotions and advertorial ideas.
As a result of the launch, close links have been formed with bodies such
as Food from Britain and the National Dairy Council. The launch has also
generated over 500 calls from the public to the BCB’s consumer desk set
up at Harrison Cowley’s Bristol office.
Research has given the BCB a platform from which to mount a long-term
campaign. In particular it has highlighted areas where work needs to be
done - for example, to redress the lack of knowledge about British
regional cheeses and tackle the idea that continental cheeses are the
only way to satisfy 1990s aspirations.
Kelly was pleased with trade coverage and establishing relationships
with influential food bodies which may be exploited in joint
But he admits it is going to be a ’longer haul’ with consumer media and
Harrison Cowley is now agreeing the PR programme with the BCB, and will
be looking at ways to convey messages about benefits to the media.
Client: British Cheese Board
PR Team: Harrison Cowley
Campaign: Launch of British Cheese Board
Timescale: March 1997 - ongoing
Cost: pounds 100,000 over 12 months