DDB Needham was one of three shops in the hunt for the business, along with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago.
BBDO Worldwide, New York, dropped out earlier due to "conflicting business demands"; its Chicago office handles the Borden cheese brand, owned by Dairy Farmers of America.
SEEKING THE NEXT LEVEL
From the outset, DMI told contenders it was looking for an agency that would continue to execute the "Behold the power of cheese" line penned by the prior agency, Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.
"What we asked for was observations on how to take our campaign to the next level and conceptually execute it," said Dick Cooper, VP-cheese marketing at DMI. "Creatively, DDB was very impressive. Their creative team was a three-alarm fire."
He added that the current advertising "isn't the perfect campaign. It won't run forever. But we want to evolve it very gradually."
While Mr. Cooper wouldn't say specifically what the new effort -- which won't break until the first quarter of 2000 -- will be, he indicated it would be as laugh-provoking as the Burnett work now on air.
"We were looking for the effective use of humor," he said.
The new client sought "work that has talk value," said Robert Klein, senior VP-group account director at DDB Needham, who noted that the shop pitched a fully integrated approach. "They want advertising that can become part of the vernacular."
That could be one reason why DMI gravitated toward DDB Needham, which created the "Did somebody say McDonald's?" line and such earlier popular catch-phrases as "Yes, I am," "I love ya, man" and "Give me a light" for Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light beer.
Others familiar with the review speculated that Goodby -- even though it has a stellar creative reputation -- was a long shot because of internal client politics.
Goodby created the "Got milk?" campaign that has been licensed to DMI, which is funded by milk producers and the Fluid Milk Processors Education Program, itself bankrolled by milk processors. Although the two groups now market together, they are said to maintain some rivalry.
The task ahead for DDB Needham is to raise cheese consumption. Mr. Cooper said U.S. per capita consumption is only two-thirds the level of western Europe.
On the plus side, there was almost a 3% rise in domestic per capita consumption last year despite pricing late in the year that he admits "was not the most advantageous."