Friendly fire from the milk co-op

I don’t think MG’s chief banana, Gary Helou, was expecting its farmer shareholders to be pleased with the co-op’s rebranding exercise. Referring to the Dev ‘n Dale ads, he writes to his farmers:

“We have received several comments about the adverts in relation to farmer image. It is important to note that the Dev and Dale adverts have been carefully designed to achieve consumer cut-through to drive brand recognition and sales volumes.”

“This strategy is based on humour and the comic characters were designed to be over-the-top so they could not be construed as real representations of our farmers.

“The Dev and Dale characters were also developed to create greater recollection of the brand. Earlier market research found that consumers did not have strong recollection of the Devondale name or brand, and this means consumers are not often enough considering our products for purchase.

“We will monitor consumer response carefully to ensure there are no negative connotations for industry image.”

In earlier letters, the co-op had explained that the old branding was associated with a low-cost positioning and it was important to add value to the brand. I guess Dev ‘n Dale is their interpretation of “upmarket” then.

Please let me know – are the ads funny, memorable and indicative of a premium brand?

PS: For an alternate approach, check out Yeo Valley’s UK dairy promo.

23 thoughts on “Friendly fire from the milk co-op

  1. I have seen some of the Yeo valley ads before, They are great ads on many levels. If Upmarket is MG’s aim, the Dev n Dale ad won’t work, it strikes me as a pitch at down market. I can’t comment with any authority on whether they will drive sales but my guess would be thumbs down. Not a great ad and stuck in 1980’s mentality


  2. We’ve been getting the one where the mother in law comes to stay for 90 days (for the UHT milk????). I like new logo, but I don’t like the ad, it just perpetuates the cranky farmer/country hick stereotype! It’s a bit too close to the Mainland “Cheeseday” approach for my taste.
    Let’s hope they get better….maybe they need to script in a male “eye candy” neighbour somewhere if they want some “over the top”.


  3. ‘Not happy Jan’, ‘Rhonda and Ketut’ and ‘Barbara the bank manager’
    are other examples where over-the-top characters stand out for Aussie consumers. Unfortunately, I felt myself cringing at both the UHT milk and new tasty cheese ads. I wonder if bank managers cringed at seeing ‘Barbara’ in action?


  4. Appalling !! How embarassing for all the dairy farmers. I don’t know why everyone falls for the advertising company’s speil that products need re-branding. The advertisers are only drumming up business for themselves. All the money the co-op has previously spent promoting ‘brand recognition’ goes down the drain. The long suffering consumers go to the shops and wonder where the wonderful Devondale UHT they used to buy has gone. Weeks later they realise that the new brand on the shelf is actually the old product and they (hopefully) begin buying it again. A very foolish marketing strategy.


  5. Marian

    My guess is that the people posting on your website are not the people at which the ad is targeted. The aim is to have something memorable,even if it is a demeaning stereotype (I still fondly, if somewhat ashamedly, remember the Big M Girl ads…stereotypes do work!). The two hill-billies approach is definitely is not sending a premium product message but does that matter if the ads help to sell more product?

    I don’t think much of the ad but I don’t think much of marketing people at the best of times. I think these ads are lazy. “Carefully designed” – gimme a break! All they have done is taken the Mainland cheese makers idea (the young bloke and the old codger) and re-jigged it a little. There is no originality in the theme. Gawd, I hope they didn’t pay much for this ‘creative strategy’.

    Dad n Dave for milk, that’s all.


    • Hi Ian,
      It’s possible the people visiting Milk Maid Marian do not belong to the target market but, on the other hand, a lot of people here are not farmers – but Aussies (and international friends!) who care where their food comes from. Exactly the target market, I’d argue, because MG has the perfect story to tell about provenance.


    • Hi Ian,
      I am one of the target market, as I’m a townie and I buy the groceries! But I do work with farmers (so I’m not a typical urban dweller) and honestly think that our food producing heroes should be portrayed in a better light. I really like the Yeo Valley approach and would prefer a more positive farming image in the media. I liked the old ads so much more because of this.
      We got the cheese ad last night and it wasn’t an improvement!


  6. My word you dairy farmers in Victoria are being got at by brands etc. Here in New Zealand we only have two players, Fonterra and Goodman Fielder from Australia. As a matter of interest the media here in Nz is saying Australian suppliers to Fontera can also participate in the Fonterra Nz issue of securities. A First for Fonterra here in N.Z. beyond Farmers.


  7. They missed the boat in not getting the “Australian Farmers Owned” message across. People want to know which products are Aussie owned. Dairy Farmers brand gives the impression of being Australian when, although the milk is Australian, the ownership – and profits – go to Japan.


  8. I agree with Pete. Love the simple cow logo – tells the story of Australian owned coop. Get rid of the other messy noise and focus on that! The last lot of ads was SOOO much better, Australian families make the milk & own the coop etc. This new move seems like such a backward step & does not make me proud to supply milk & have shares in this message. Question is will our coop listen???


  9. I think that the only way that you are really going to make a connection today is people to people, unless you have a cracker of an eye popping idea. And let’s face it most agency “creativity” is just stupidity. Therefore you need a way to build a relationship with the suppliers and their products. DF tries this angle, but their products aren’t too good. If you can build a real connection and use all the other ways to do it (I hesitate to use the word “channels”) then you have a sustaining advantage. These goofy guys will not build any sustaining advantage because they are not real, by definition, and no relationship can exist.


  10. I think Yeo Valley Rap is so much better. It’s a very arch piss take, in a way that dev n dale could only wish for. Sorry, but I don’t like the new cow either. 🙂


  11. I’m just over from the UK (Yeo valley advert), the Mother in law advert is one of the funniest I’ve seen, delivery of the punch line is perfect. In no way does it degrade to the British Farmer Giles and Jethro in the “get offff marrr lannnd” stereotype. Well done to the writers, well done!


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