CHICAGO: Working with partners that deliver highly-targeted impressions and assist with measurement has helped chocolate milk use sponsorship to become an authentic "recovery drink" for athletes.
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) – a trade body funded by more than 100 processors across America – is charged with boosting the number of people drinking milk in its various forms.
Julie Kadison, the organisation's chief executive, told delegates at IEG's Sponsorship 2014 conference that low-fat chocolate milk's positioning as a "recovery drink" was based on evidence from over 20 scientific studies.
In activating this idea, it forged alliances with numerous partners boasting impeccable credentials in the sporting world, including IRONMAN, USA Hockey, Lifetime Fitness, the Competitor Group and Esprit de She.
"When we advertise or we partner with those properties, we really get a very targeted reach to our audience," said Kadison. (For more, including how the "Refuel" campaign was brought to life via a tie-up with former NFL star Hines Ward, read Warc's exclusive report: How chocolate milk became a drink for athletes, not kids.)
Among the primary considerations for MilkPEP when identifying which operators to affiliate with is how each party can add value – beyond the simply financial – for the other.
For MilkPEP, according to Kadison, this process involves answering an important question: "How can our partners help us reach those folks and bring us more impressions that are truly targeted?"
This applies to anything from on-the-ground connections at the finish line to engaging the social media audience. "It's very important that these partners can bring us awareness of our message," she continued.
"We also utilise our partners to go out and do their own surveys to help us understand if we're really pinpointing the right people and getting the message across," said Kadison.
Having effectively moved into the competitive category of sports drinks, the Milk Processor Education Program finds itself up against many rivals with deep pockets – meaning there is a threat of being "blocked out".
"There are some brands which have broader reach [and] much bigger budgets than we have," Kadison told the IEG audience.
"One of the things that we do to try and avoid that is, once we find a partner who we think is going to bring a lot of value – and we can bring value to – we lock in to multi-year terms."
Data sourced from Warc