Growing up in the South, I’ve heard the same story from multiple people about Mayfield Milk: it’s iconic yellow packaging supposedly helps protect the milk from the harmful affects of the sun, giving you a fresher and healthier product.
…Right. I never understood the reasoning behind the ‘harmful light’ theory. When is your milk being exposed to so much sunlight it needs to be protected? When it’s manufactured in a closed facility? When it gets loaded onto a refrigerated truck? When that truck is unloaded at the store? When the carton sits in the milk aisle? Or when it’s bagged, placed in your car, and rushed inside because you wanted to carry all your groceries in one trip? The only times your milk is exposed to sunlight is when it gets to your hands for the brief trip from the store to your car, and your car to the house. Unless you don’t have windows on your car, sun shouldn’t be a problem.
And don’t get me started on why you’d even want your milk in a bag in the first place.
Although I’ve never had Mayfield (it’s price is always significantly higher than the store brand’s, so why bother), I always thought it was cool that the jugs were yellow. It makes them stand out the the dairy aisle. Among all the white, Mayfield’s yellow and brown embodies simple Southern classiness. The people that give me the light story tell it with an air of superiority, like ‘Yes, I can afford to have special milk that is protected.’ And this is who Mayfield caters towards- people who have enough money to splurge on milk, but also are concerned that others need to know how well off they are.
When I noticed the iconic yellow carton sporting a new label, I got curious. Slapping a new name under the tried-and-true logo falls squarely under the repetitive re-branding gimmick- the one where you add the new label and slowing fade off the old one and hope the public doesn’t notice or send hate mail. But the Mayfield name carries so much weight in the South. Why the need to change it?
According to Wikipedia, Mayfield Dairy has been under the ownership of Dean Foods since 1990. Dean Foods is mostly known for its food and beverages, specifically milk products. In the United States, it owns over 50 local and region dairy brands. Yikes. That is a lot of different messages and brands to control and advertise. I get a headache just looking at the map on their website.
So what do you do when milk consumption is in a slump and you control 50+ milk brands? You consolidate. Starting last year, the Mayfield brand has been making the switch over to another Dean Foods brand, DairyPure.
According to Dean Foods themselves from this press release, DairyPure will be America’s first national fresh white milk brand. It’s odd to think that we haven’t had a national milk brand before 2015, but their decision makes sense. It’s much easier to run one national campaign for one brand than 50 regional ones. And sure enough, a few weeks after the change, I noticed some more gimmicky re-branding spots on TV. These always make my eyes rolling, but does DairyPure’s commercials have to be so… painful?
Really? ‘Like, Moo’? The clique valley girl stereotype isn’t overplayed yet?
But as I see these changes, and although I know that changing Mayfield into DairyPure will help Dean Foods become so much more efficient, I can’t help but think how this is a huge mistake. Mayfield is iconic. If you don’t live in the South, I’m not even sure how to describe the power behind the Mayfield brand. You just hear the word ‘Mayfield’, and you know. Their logo is synonymous with high quality, and they enjoy multitudes of brand loyal customers who wouldn’t think of substituting. Mayfield has achieved a recognition and respect other brands can only hope to someday gain. Dean Foods is throwing this brand wealth in the trash. By stripping all that away for efficiency, the results of this change can be catastrophic. It’s like I’m watching the car accident in slow motion: I know it’s going to end badly, and yet there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
This decision was probably made by the people chilling in their C-Suites, dreaming of synergy. They probably assume that Mayfield drinkers will just transfer over to DairyPure without much thought. But I’m not so sure. Mayfield drinkers are particular kinds of people. They like to think they’re spending more for quality. That’s why they’re Mayfield drinkers. DairyPure does address this in both their press release and commercials with their ‘Five-Point Purity Promise’, but there’s plenty of other milk brands that boast their lack of hormones and antibiotics. Even store brands advertise those things on the label. I can’t agree with shoving another unheard of brand down customers’ throats that tries to say how quality it is when it’s getting rid of an already proven quality brand. What’s the point? Is the efficiency really worth the years of confusion and hate from customers? Whether or not the yellow carton did anything, what Mayfield had was unique- it stood out from the competition. Now it’ll fade to white with every other gallon jug that sits on that shelf. What a waste.
I realize how bias this argument is- this whole post is my nostalgia talking. I remember on my last blog post how I didn’t feel anything towards ABCFamily or Freeform because I had no emotional ties to either name. Even though I’ve never bought Mayfield milk, it’s been an iconic Southern brand I’ve seen my entire life. I’m sad to see it go.
But the Mayfield name might have one last hope. Although the milk may be a goner, what will happen to the Mayfield ice cream line? Will the ice cream still bear the Mayfield brand? As far as Dairy Pure’s website shows, this brand only focuses on milk. There’s no Dairy Pure ice cream line. …Yet.