How a small cheese brand from the Beemster conquered all of Holland

The market share of Beemster cheese grew 50% in recent years, making it now the biggest A-brand among cheeses. With the new campaign 'Real taste comes from the Beemster' it wants to let the Netherlands know that it really does make the tastiest cheese, for all moments of the day. A story about the power of marketing and a fruitful client-bureau relationship.

First, a few fun facts: Beemster cheese is the sign of CONO Kaasmakers from Westbeemster, a small cooperative of around 400 farmers founded in 1901.
The Beemster Polder - where the wind always blows beautifully - was drained in 1612, in the Golden Age to provide food for Amsterdam (the clay soil proved very fertile for grass) and was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999.
The cows of Beemster cheese farmers walk outside a lot longer than the national average. Last year it was 176 days and 10 hours a day, compared to 120 days and 6 hours.
And: 'You don't order a cheese sandwich now, but a Beemster sandwich,' says Nicole van Gorp-Schippers, CMO of CONO Kaasmakers.

She laughs at the list: "The only real measurable proof of the power of marketing is market share, and then we are also the most sustainable cheese brand in the perception of consumers. We also prefer to remain that small cooperative, made big by daring to think big, yet remaining small as a team.
And just as with our 'agency' Philip&Hugo, we have more long-term, pleasant collaborations with short lines of communication, such as with MPG/Matter Content Agency (publisher of Allerhande, among others), the festivals with our Beemster truck, and our media consultant Marijke van Outersterp - we also do that in-house as much as possible. What is most important to us is that we keep our boots in the clay and our farmers, cows and cheesemakers in a positive light, because ultimately they are the ones who together make the tastiest cheese.

Kristine van de Velden, Brand Lead Beemster: 'What was secretly bothering us a bit was that we are rated as the tastiest in taste tests, but the general public doesn't know that yet. That is why we created this campaign 'Real taste comes from the Beemster', responding to our pay-off (since 2015) 'Real cheese comes from the Beemster'. After years of highlighting the craft, it's now all about the cheese itself, 'real' people and of course the taste. Because that is what the consumer ultimately finds most important. We also want to make the diversity of Beemster cheese - we have the widest range - more top of mind for every moment of the day, from breakfast, lunch, drinks to dinner.

'What secretly bothered us a bit was that although we are rated the tastiest in taste tests, the general public doesn't know it yet'

The authenticity in the campaigns is largely due to creative team and directing duo in one (since 2004), Philip&Hugo - with whom Beemster cheese has been working for just under a decade. Hugo van Woerden, the copyman: 'Beemster as a brand is like a playground, because with 400 farmers there are so many real stories. The farmers also know us by now: 'Do you need a look-through? Oh, you can do that there and there very nicely.'
Philip Brink: 'The commercial is now less of a story, but the earlier documentary feeling with the slightly cheeky, questioning tone is in it, and above all it has more emotion and more 'taste' - a bit like the classic 15 million people, with the message: Beemster cheese really is for everyone.

Van Woerden adds, 'We reinvented cheese as a category together, step by step, and in the process matured Beemster cheese, matured it and gave it its own voice - Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy, where we worked before, always insisted on that: find the voice of the brand.'
(Brink: "My mother still quotes the line from the previous commercial 'Buy Local' about farmer Frans: 'Because local doesn't come from la France, but from Frans, Gerrit and Lieke.'")

The secret
What is the secret of the years of cooperation? Van de Velden's eyes light up: 'Philip&Hugo are very down-to-earth and have a good click with the farmers, which is essential for us. They are also very much in the community; they are not office creatives in that respect.'

'We indicate what is going on, and together we map out a new route every time,' says Van Gorp-Schippers. 'We are all quite critical and steadfast, and we have to be; we as a 'small' player do have to make an impact, stand out, be different. We will really have to keep challenging each other in that respect, because it is easier to become the biggest than to stay the biggest.'

Van Woerden concludes, "The strength lies in the very direct personal, mutual trust and freedom we are given. Ideas come from all sides and there is little noise, we sit at the table with the decision-makers.
We also work with a fixed team ourselves - which means that all in all, together with the customer, we can make more than would normally be the case. Indeed, it is our belief that the best things are made by 'a small club of people.'

'With a steady, small team you can make more than would normally be the case. Indeed, it is our belief that the best things are made by 'a small club of people'

Watch the commercial here!