The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Is Measurement Menace of the Month

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc., dba, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW), is a non-profit funded by, yes, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin. DFW’s recent “For the Love of Cheese” campaign was a big success. So much so that Tina Peterson, DFW’s national program manager of media appearances, claims: “We know that we’ve already garnered over $5 million in media value, and that’s earned value which means it is pretty much free…” The photo above, taken from the DFW’s website, apparently shows dairy farmers celebrating their $5 million in free coverage.

Here at The Measurement Advisor we have a major problem with advertising value equivalency, aka earned media value. And we have an even bigger problem with Ms. Peterson’s assumption that PR people work for “pretty much free.” And so we name Ms. Peterson and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board as our Measurement Menaces of the Month.

Now hold on just a milk maid’s minute… Before anyone starts screaming @ me, let’s be clear that I am not against cheese, dairy farmers, Wisconsin, or any combination thereof. In fact, I love all three—a lot. Especially cheese. I’ve got cheese in my blood: I live on a former dairy farm where my father grew up milking cows. I’m all for sending cheese instead of chocolates to your valentine. I’ll take cheese over chocolate any day of the week.

Having a cow over Ms. Peterson and her free PR

But I’m definitely having a cow over Ms. Peterson and her free PR. So… she’s telling us the entire promotional team worked on this campaign for nothing? Doesn’t Wisconsin have labor laws?

Don’t get me wrong. “For the Love of Cheese” was a good campaign, and worth paying for. But when you state the value of a campaign in ad equivalency, you are saying that this is what it would have cost had we spent the money on advertising, but we were smarter than that and we didn’t spend anything.

Unless Peterson and PR manager Lizzie Duffey are unpaid volunteers (and the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin careers page is lying about the “competitive rate and benefits” that they offer a full-time Dairy Company Communications Program Assistant), they did in fact pay for that publicity.

Peterson herself indicates that the effort required at least six months’ worth of effort. Where is that in her “free” calculations?

Peterson devalues the efforts of herself and her entire team by saying that the results are “free.” She also misrepresents those efforts to the citizens of Wisconsin, who pay $.10 for every 100 pounds of milk produced and marketed in the state.

They had better metrics at hand

The really infuriating part of this travesty is that Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin could easily have used much better metrics to judge the success of their campaign. They have a wonderful website from which people can order cheese, and people actually bought cheese as a result of the campaign. So they could have calculated the value of cheese sold (less the cost of the campaign, of course), and told their funders and the public what value they actually delivered. (Avinash Kaushik just posted a great lesson in how to accurately calculate value of efforts like this.)

But no. They chose instead to use an inflated figure that was no doubt easy to read off of some publicity report delivered by whoever tracks their media coverage. Yep, they milked it, all right.

And for that they earn our Measurement Menace of the Month award. Congrats to Ms. Peterson and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board! ∞

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