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  • Glauce Fleury

Don't cry over any milk

“If it’s made with Canadian milk, it’s worth crying over.”

The advertisement with this catchy line can be seen at Skytrain stations in Metro Vancouver, at movie theatres, on the Internet… I’m tired of seeing it. But it seems that Dairy Farmers of Canada, the business behind it, is getting the attention they wanted. At least, among non-vegans.

At the movie theatres, I’ve noticed that people laugh at the commercial. But let’s be honest: the characters’ crying faces are funny, but no one is convinced that cows are no longer harmed. Look at their mandate:

Does this statement just say it’s all about profit? The Dairy Farmers of Canada is the national “policy, lobbying and promotional organization” representing Canada’s farmers living on more than 10,000 farms. This campaign is obviously trying to fight the decline of milk consumption in Canada, which has been on the news it’s been a few years.

A business professor at University of Guelph, Sylvain Charlebois, told The Globe and Mail that “we have these super cows producing a lot of milk, and a lot of consumers don’t see anything natural in that. And that’s why some Canadians just reject that.” One of the commercials that the association has on their YouTube channel makes me think of those small farms with just a dozen of cows, which sounds bucolic but far from the reality of today’s world.

By the few comments on the page, it seems I’m not the only person to have doubts about how things really happen:

Last month, the advertisement was profiled on several websites that feature marketing campaigns across Canada. The team behind it had the opportunity to explain details of the creative work.

One of the executives said they wanted to “communicate the high quality of Canadian milk by showing different characters crying over spilled dairy products.” And added that “losing even a single drop of ice cream made with quality Canadian milk is a real tragedy.”

I have a different understanding of real tragedies, but let’s go back to the topic. The campaign also was the reason for a petition (with few supporters, I have to say) signed by a group identified as farmers, supporters and consumers. They say that “the direction, visuals and message of the advertisement” reflect a “poor marketing campaign.” Their main complaint is that the campaign portrays an upper-class family in an environment that doesn’t represent most consumers and the way they consume dairy (e.g., one of the ads shows the fondue spilling over the table).

Regardless of a marketing campaign, businesses that rely on cow’s milk to survive should start diversifying. In 2014, the decline in consumption led the Dairy Farmers of Canada to commission a survey to find out why Canadians are dropping milk. The survey revealed that the major decline happened among middle-aged households and families with children under the age of 12. Ten per cent stated they’d gone vegan and eight per cent said they didn’t want to support “an industry whose practices they regarded as cruel.”

Considering the numbers, I see an even bigger decline in cow’s milk consumption in the coming years. Where do you stand?

Photo credit: © Tim Green under Creative Commons via Flickr.


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