The Spectacular Social Media Marketing Fail That Was #Februdairy

Ah, Februdairy – that time of the year when dairy farmers try to create nostalgia for a world that never was.

When I first heard about #Februdairy I honestly assumed it was a joke. Honestly, could any farmer be quite out of touch enough to think that consumers would embrace their campaign?

Every once and a while, a social media campaign comes along that is so spectacularly tone deaf, it backfires in a major way. We’ve seen it before – there was #McDStories –  which quickly devolved into a series of twitter horror stories about the fast food chain. And then there was the horribly ill-conceived Pepsi campaign that featured Kendall Jenner co-opting Black Lives Matter. 

According to Our Social Times, as a general rule, social media campaigns need to consider three basic rules of social media marketing:

  • Never use a national disaster or uprising to promote a product
  • If you ask for praise you may get criticism and
  • Using trending topics can backfire.

Februdairy violates at least two of these criteria. First, the hashtag attempted to latch onto the organic popularity of #Veganuary with industry sponsored antagonism. I think it’s fair to say that’s rarely a good idea, unless you’re certain there is pent-up demand and overwhelming love for your product. So Februdairy felt a bit crass, and poorly timed.

Secondly, while the creators of the hashtag seemed to believe their product was invincible (perhaps like McDonalds did with #McDstories), they forgot that a vocal minority (vegans) aren’t tremendous fans.

Out of these mistakes, Februdairy was born.

Dairy’s Public Relations Problem

Dairy has a major public relations problem. You see, animal milk is, by nature, intended for the young of the species. Which means that in order to commercialize animal milk, it demands separating children from their moms (calves from cows).

It’s not a particular endearing image, and particularly when you combine dairy milk with veal industry, it’s a pretty hard pill for the most hardened carnivore to swallow. Perhaps that’s why even the paleo community wants nothing to do with dairy. And they aren’t wrong when they point out that milk from animals triggers an inflammatory response in many humans. Lactose intolerance is surprisingly common, with worldwide prevalence near 65%.

Februdairy Isn’t Just Unpalatable…it’s Obsolete

Of course, dairy isn’t just distasteful. It’s also increasingly obsolete. According to the world’s top health experts, including the World Health Organization and Harvard’s School of Public Health, milk from animals is unnecessary. Today there are many healthy alternative milks to choose from, and there’s one for every taste preference. Oat, cashew, coconut, almond, pea, rice, soy, flax, hemp – the list is endless, and growing every day. And if you have the time to invest in the project, it’s actually extremely easy to make your own fortified soy milk at home for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought variety.

Dairy from animals is bad for the environment, and it’s not great for your health, either. I am very excited that research into animal-free alternatives, like Perfect Day, may make it possible for companies to recreate the taste and texture of cow’s milk, without causing any animals to suffer (or putting consumers at risk of disease).

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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