Chocolate Milk Gets Its Closeup

New MilkPEP campaign focuses on single-serve drinks for athletes at all levels

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Apolo Ohno for chocolate milk

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- If MilkPEP has its way, chocolate milk will soon be the go-to recovery drink for athletes—professional, amateur and newcomers. The milk-marketing organization funded by the nation's milk processors has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of drinking chocolate milk after a workout, going as far as sampling it after marathons and triathlons poured over Wheaties cereal.

“This is about building demand,” Miranda Abney, marketing director for MilkPEP, told CSP Daily News. The growth of competition from other protein-enhanced beverages—Muscle Milk, Muscle Monster Energy, Protein2o, etc.—has challenged the original protein drink. While those beverages are typically thought of as single-serve, chocolate milk most often is purchased in multiserve portions—quarts and gallons—and has seen a steep decline in retail sales and deliveries to stores.

MilkPEP—the people behind the Got Milk? campaign—is anxious to battle back with its Built It With Chocolate Milk initiative, emphasizing single-serve as an opportunity that should benefit the convenience-store industry.

While MilkPEP’s ongoing strategy will continue to present white milk as the best way to “start your day with the power of protein,” the new chocolate-milk program underscores the benefits of adults drinking chocolate milk after a workout.

Among the emphases:

  • Almost 60% of Americans consider protein when purchasing packaged foods and beverages, and a majority are trying to get more in their diet.
  • A growing emphasis on the “recovery” portion of a workout has more athletes thinking seriously about what they consume following demanding exercise.
  • More than 20 studied support the benefits of recovering with high-quality protein and nutrients, all of which come naturally in chocolate milk.

The program itself includes 12 months of paid-media and direct engagement with athletes. The Mission Apolo portion of the campaign—a series of online video vignettes—follows Olympic skater Apolo Ohno as he trains for his first Ironman Triathlon.

“It’s all about showing in a real-life situation how an athlete is using chocolate milk to reach his goals,” said High Williams, the senior vice president of Weber Shandwick, which is coordinating the campaign, and a triathlete himself.

The Ironman Triathlon takes place Oct. 11 and will be broadcast on NBC on Nov. 22.

Support at retail thus far has been focused mainly on the grocery channel with more than 14,000 retailers using shelf-talkers to echo MilkPEP’s message in their stores. But Abney sees great opportunity to bring the message to convenience stores, where single-serve beverages are a staple.

MilkPEP’s goals:

  • The right messaging can help increase chocolate-milk sales.
  • Recasting our story will help chocolate milk stay head to head against its competitors.
  • Tailoring the message to resonate the most with each key target consumer.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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