Borden® Brand Marks 150th Anniversary with Events for Families and Dairy Farmers

March 20, 2007

Kansas City, Mo. - Borden®, a brand that Americans have long associated with freshness, wholesomeness and a cow named Elsie, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year with events that shine a light on hard-working dairy farmers and their families.

“It’s American farmers who back Borden brand dairy products, and it’s the families who embrace those products that have made Borden a highly recognized brand,” said Mark Korsmeyer, president of American Dairy Brands, which markets Borden cheese and butter products. “So we’re putting both of them in the spotlight, along with America’s favorite spokescow, Elsie.”

The Borden 150th Anniversary campaign features:

  • A search for Borden artifacts—after combing the country, everything from an original milkman uniform, to fifty years worth of Borden Boys Yearbooks, to an original Gail Borden scrapbook has surfaced. Borden is in discussions with a leading American history museum about including some these items in their permanent collection.
  • A fresh and engaging dairy farmer-focused message noting that “Borden Cheese & Butter Proceeds go to Dairy Farmers.” The message is incorporated into dairy farmer focused imagery on Borden cheese and butter packaging, in print advertising and highlighted on Borden Cheese’s website www.elsie.com. The dairy farmer-focused imagery and messaging help convey to consumers that proceeds from the sale of Borden cheese and butter go to hard-working dairy farmers and their families. This message drives home a key point of difference offered by Borden cheese and butter and gives consumers a compelling reason to select our cheese and butter products over other brands. The Borden cheese and butter brand is licensed by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc (DFA). DFA is a cooperative consisting of nearly 22,000 dairy farmers who take pride in bringing the best the dairy farm has to offer.
  • Events targeted at parents in 10 key markets throughout the remainder of the year. The rollout will include results from a nationwide survey measuring just how much – or how little – the nation’s children know about dairy farming and cheese making. Borden will follow up with an educational campaign designed to bring everyone’s understanding of the dairy industry up to Elsie’s standards.

How Borden Became a Household Name
The centerpiece of the 150th anniversary campaign will be the Borden Brand’s storied history and how American’s came to identify Borden dairy products with all that is fresh, wholesome and good.

In fact, it wasn’t until founder Gail Borden came along that Americans began to associate dairy foods with healthy eating. In the days before the Civil War, milk products were subject to spoilage and dairy farming was frequently a haphazard enterprise when it came to sanitation. Many Americans fell ill because of bacteria that crept into their dairy products.

A native Texan, Borden was a bit of a renaissance man. He had been a publisher, a cattleman, a surveyor, a civil servant, a politician and a missionary before getting involved in the dairy business. In 1853, Borden began working on a process to condense milk as a means of preventing spoilage. Four years later, he established his first condensery in Burrville, Connecticut and called his nascent business the New York Condensed Milk Company, later to become the Borden Company. More factories were built in Connecticut, New York and Maine and the business really took off with the Civil War when the Union Army called on Borden to supply condensed milk in huge quantities. Borden’s business made him a wealthy man and admired as well. For the first time, consumers could reliably count on his products to remain free of bacteria and so Borden’s name became synonymous with quality and wholesomeness.

Building the brand
Borden’s sons, John Gail and Henry Lee Borden, were pioneers in their own right establishing Borden also as a purveyor of fluid milk products in New York City in 1875 and a decade later selling sanitary milk in bottles. The business expanded to New York state and then to Illinois and grew rapidly as the nation witnessed the Great Depression, World War II, the birth of Rock and Roll, and the space age.

Elsie was born in the 1930s. She first appeared as one of many cartoon cows extolling the virtues of milk in medical journals. Doctors were so charmed that they asked Borden to send reprints that they could hang on their walls.

Elsie’s “hayday” was probably in the 1940s when a study showed that more people recognized Elsie than President Harry Truman.

Elsie kept a lower profile after that, but when consumer research indicated that she was still a popular and widely recognized figure, Borden put her to greater use and squired her around in a “cow-dillac.’’ In 2000 Advertising Age recognized Elsie as one of the top 10 advertising icons of all time. In 2007 she’s looking forward to helping the brand celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Recent Borden History
In 1997, a farm cooperative, Mid-America Dairymen Inc. purchased Borden-Meadow Gold, Dairies, Inc. Mid-America later merged with other cooperatives to form the 22,000-member Dairy Farmers of America (www.dfamilk.com).

Borden® Cheese and Elsie are now marketed through DFA. Borden Brand Cheese products include individually wrapped cheese slices, natural and processed shredded cheese, natural chunk cheese, snack and string cheese and natural cheese slices. Borden Cheese products are available nationwide at major grocery and mass merchandise stores.