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McCannÕs ÔItÕs the CheeseÕ Hits Print

McCann-Erickson is tapping a new medium for the California Milk Advisory Board’s “It’s the cheese” campaign, with new product-specific ads appearing in California editions of several women’s and lifestyle magazines.
This is the first time the client has requested print ads, according to Dave Tutin, creative director for McCann, San Francisco. The milk board has traditionally relied on McCann’s outdoor and TV efforts to brand California cheese.
“TV and outdoor [ads] are not the best way to show off a range of cheeses,” Tutin said. “In magazines, we can focus on one type of cheese while getting the message out about all California cheeses.”
Another problem McCann and the client are working to solve, according to Tutin, is lingering confusion among consumers about “real” California cheese. “There are some people who think they’re buying California cheese because it is purchased in California,” he said. “This, of course, is not the case.”
Each of the new magazine ads features a black panel next to the “Real California Cheese” seal. Subtle, cursive script reads, “Only cheeses that carry this seal are certified made in California from California milk.”
Humor is key in the new print campaign, as it has been in McCann’s previous work for the milk board. One ad for Monterey Jack cheese, breaking this month, features a nerdy-looking guy from Santa Cruz who is quoted as saying, “Before I came to California, I didn’t know Jack.”
McCann has also added several new outdoor ads that will appear at “surprise sites” throughout California, according to Tutin. They rely heavily on eye-catching visuals, such as a UFO hovering over the Hollywood sign, to suggest that visitors come to California for the cheese. The ads continue the tagline, “It’s the cheese.”
“We really appreciate that our client lets us have so much fun,” Tutin said.
Annual billings for the account are estimated at $20-25 million.