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Columbia Business School Case Study on Real California Cheese Campaign


Top Business School Calls Campaign "Tremendous Success Story"

(April 8, 2005) Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, one of the leading business schools in the country, has published a comprehensive teaching case study that presents the California Milk Advisory Board's (CMAB) Real California Cheese campaign as a success story that illustrates best practices in both long-term strategic planning and integrated marketing practices. The 34-page study will be taught at New York's Columbia University, which is ranked among the top 10 graduate business schools in the U.S., and also will be made available for use in business schools across the U.S. and abroad.

"The growth of the California cheese industry over the past 20-plus years is nothing short of a tremendous success story," said the case study's author, Michelle Greenwald, a professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. "California cheese production grew from 281 million pounds in 1983 to the more than two billion pounds projected for 2005. It illustrates successful integrated marketing communications across a wide variety of marketing elements and channels, and illustrates the importance of consistency in marketing communications over time."

The case study cites the Real California Cheese campaign as a well-executed strategic plan with a long-term vision that has dramatically transformed the state's dairy industry and helped make California the nation's leading dairy producer. The case study traces the evolution of the campaign, beginning in 1983 when the CMAB enlisted Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to help the California dairy industry determine how to best deal with the state's growing surplus of farm-level milk. Based on SRI's recommendations, which projected strong marketplace growth for cheese, the industry focused on cheese production and created the Real California Cheese certification mark.

The case study then examines in some detail the strategies and tactics the CMAB developed under the Real California Cheese program to meet those objectives. In particular, the study describes the CMAB's success in integrating advertising, public relations, consumer and trade promotion, in-store and on-premise merchandising, foodservice programs and Internet promotion to create the dynamic growth the California cheese industry has enjoyed over the past two decades.

By adopting this long-term strategy, the case study reports that the California dairy industry set itself up to become the country's top producer of milk and most dairy products, and is projected to soon become the leading cheese producer. The study also notes that California producers have developed a reputation for quality as they have increased cheese production.

According to CMAB Chief Executive Officer Stan Andre, "It is truly gratifying that such a prestigious university has recognized our program as an example of superior marketing. We take great pride in our efforts to support the hard work of California's dairy families," Andre said.

In addition to being taught at Columbia, the case will be distributed nationally and internationally through the European Case Clearing House, the central source for business school case studies. A 15-minute video also will be offered as part of the case study. It will illustrate the Real California Cheese campaign and include interviews with CMAB senior managers discussing the campaign.


The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture funded by the state's more than 2,000 dairy families. Established in 1969, the CMAB is headquartered in Modesto, California, and is one of the largest commodity boards in the United States. Under the dairy umbrella, the CMAB executes generic advertising, publicity, retail and foodservice promotions and research programs on behalf of California dairy products, including Real California Cheese.

California is one of the country's leading cheese producers. Since 2001, California's cow's milk cheesemakers have won more awards in total than any other state at the prestigious American Cheese Society annual judging. For more information on California cheeses, visit