Article: Put Some Cheese On It!


June 2010

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if everything was covered in cheese? Kansas City advertising agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink wondered. And wedged its idea into a delicious campaign for the Midwest Dairy Association™ (Midwest Dairy), a nonprofit organization focused on increasing sales and demand for dairy products, as well as improving the economic well-being of Midwest dairy producers.

“Midwest Dairy is about finding the best ideas to grow dairy consumption,” said John January, senior vice president and executive creative director, Sullivan Higdon & Sink. “This was a campaign about driving demand for our hard-working dairy producers and their families in a year when they really needed it.”


In order to ultimately boost cheese sales, the client and the agency wanted to encourage cheese-lovers to incorporate the dairy product into more of their meals.

“[We wanted to remind] folks that almost everything is better with cheese on it,” said Gregg Fogleman, regional marketing manager, Midwest Dairy.

Ali Mahaffy, vice president and director of brand management, Sullivan Higdon & Sink, said the idea for the campaign was born early in the brainstorming process.

“Cheese is often a team effort. Consumers buy potatoes and then get cheese to top it off or use it to help make veggies more kid-friendly,” said Mahaffy. “We wanted to surprise Mom in unexpected, yet relevant environments, causing her to rethink her cheese-buying routine.”

The slogan, Put Some Cheese On It!, was born.

“We leveraged humor, smart, creative visuals and a myriad of communications that engaged people and caused them to rethink the versatility of cheese,” said Fogleman.


In a marketing environment where consumers are becoming jaded to advertisements, the agency used some unique touchpoints that went beyond the traditional borders of advertising including experiential and social media tactics.

The center of the campaign was a “cheesed-out” 2010 Chevy HHR that rolled through five cities in Midwest Dairy’s Ozark region including Springfield, Tulsa and Joplin. Along with the Cheese Car, the promotional team made both scheduled and unscheduled stops in places where families were gathered to hand out cheesy t-shirts and hats.

Creative in-store tactics included customized stickers, shelf flags and FloorTalks in 55 stores in the targeted region during October and November 2009. Promotional signs such as, “Because crackers don’t like to be naked,” “Reduces the number of times you say, ‘Eat your veggies’” and “It’s not called a ketchupburger” humorously reminded consumers to add cheese to their shopping carts.

Social media tactics included Facebook, Twitter and an interactive campaign website (

“What made this campaign great is how many different channels the team used to bring it to life,” said January.

The Facebook fan page for Put Some Cheese On It! offered an app to cheese out Facebook pictures, playing with the idea that absolutely everything (including Web pages) is better with cheese on it. Tweets on the Twitter page updated fans about the campaign’s cheese-detailed Chevy HHR, called the Cheese Car, and its cross-country road trip, providing up-to-date photos of the journey. offered engaging interactive elements for consumers and linked to the social media pages of the campaign.

Another component of the campaign was the Bring on the Cheese photo submission contest. Registered users were invited to put cheese on anything they liked and then submit the photo. Fans were able to vote on their favorite photos. Prizes for the most popular photos included the Cheesy Chevy HHR and $2,500 for groceries.


The campaign is an example of Sullivan Higdon & Sink’s “borderless branding” philosophy at work. According to SHS, Borderless Branding™ is about ideas that go beyond the traditional borders of advertising to engage people and help brands stand out from the flock.

Instead of traditional departments, Sullivan Higdon & Sink works in nimble, multi-disciplined teams that collaborate on solutions that go across multiple channels.

Sullivan Higdon & Sink challenges the norm to deliver the most effective ideas, no matter how unconventional, for every client, every time.

“We’re about finding the right place and the right time where the message is most relevant,” explained January. “It’s gratifying to put that kind of thinking to work for great clients like Midwest Dairy.”

It’s an approach that’s made SHS an up-and-coming player in agricultural marketing. Beyond Midwest Dairy, SHS also works with a growing list of clients such as Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Merial and Meyer Natural Beef.

”We’re an agency that markets farm to plate,” said Mahaffy. “We’re committed to bringing fresh, integrated thinking to support American agriculture.”


The campaign surpassed the goals of Midwest Dairy Association and Sullivan Higdon & Sink. Total sales volume increased by 4.1% from the same time period last year in all IRI markets. Social media impressions reached more than 20,000,000 during the six-month time period. The presentation of the Put Some Cheese On It! grand prizes garnered 318,179 media impressions, with 330,159 local media impressions, which exceeded the original goal.

January was pleased with the success of the campaign, including recognition as the 2010 Best of Show for advertising for the NAMA Awards. “From Facebook apps to highly unique in-store displays to a car seemingly made out of cheese, the goal was to find new and engaging ways to reach consumers. Ultimately, great campaigns take great clients. We’re really proud to share this national honor with Midwest Dairy.”


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