California Milk Advisory Board

Author:Candica Mancini

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400 Oyster Point Blvd., Ste. 220

San Francisco, California 94080


Telephone: (650) 871-6455

Fax: (650) 583-7328


Web site:


In an effort to promote the state's dairy products and to deal with its growing milk surplus, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) established the "Real California Cheese" campaign in 1982. With the creation of the "Real California Cheese" label, the active marketing of the state's cheese began. During the first campaign, which used the tagline "California cheese is great cheese," California surpassed Wisconsin as the leading U.S. dairy state and jumped into the number two spot in the production of cheese. In 1995 "It's the Cheese" was introduced as the new tagline. The "Real California Cheese" campaign continued to be extremely popular and helped California to close in further on Wisconsin as the national leader in cheese production. The tagline "Great cheese comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows come from California" was introduced in 2000 with the clear intent to take over the number one spot.

Supported by a $33 million marketing budget, the "Happy Cows" campaign was created by the advertising agency Deutsch LA. Television advertisements first appeared on local stations and then, beginning in December 2003, appeared on national cable channels, where the "Happy Cows" campaign would eventually have an audience of more than 500 million viewers. The spots aired during the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls were especially important. Using humor and a sense of fun to convey their message, the television spots portrayed the lives of California cows as being carefree. In "Ding Dong," for instance, a couple of cows broke into fits of giggles as they played the "ring-doorbell-and-run" trick on their farmer. In addition to television spots there also were radio commercials, ads for buses and bus shelters, and outdoor billboards.

The "Happy Cows" campaign met with incredible success. It was overwhelmingly popular with the public, and it won various advertising awards, including being named by Adweek to its list of Creative Best Spots. The campaign was accompanied by increased sales of California cheese as well as of California dairy products generally. Partly as a result of the campaign's success, California was able to narrow the gap in cheese production between itself and Wisconsin. In 2004 the production of cheese in California neared 2 billion pounds, which was an increase of 163 million pounds, or 8.9 percent, over 2003. Although cheese production in Wisconsin in 2004 was almost 2.5 billion pounds, the CMAB continued its campaign to help California eventually take the lead.


The CMAB was established in 1969 in an effort by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to

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California Milk Advisory Board's Happy Cows. © 2006 California Milk Advisory Board. Reproduced by Permission. proote the state's high-quality dairy products and to deal with the state's developing milk surplus. The state was producing 10.8 billion pounds of milk annually by 1975, and in the following years the amount increased dramatically. By 1982 it had become clear that California needed to face the problem of an ever-growing production of milk, which coincided with a declining rate of consumption. With the assistance of the Stanford Research Institute, the CMAB developed the idea that cheese might be a solution to the problem. Because 10 pounds of milk were generally needed to make 1 pound of cheese and because the nation's rate of cheese consumption was rising, this seemed to be a sensible solution. The "Real California Cheese" campaign was the result

Although the "Real California Cheese" campaign began somewhat cautiously, starting with local markets and only slowly expanding nationwide, it...

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