For July 4, Tillamook Takes a Stand Against Un-American American Cheese

Honest Abe joins campaign against processed cheese

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

As we near any holiday—July 4 is coming up!—we watch brands try to capitalize on it by using social media to link themselves to the milestone. The West Coast dairy brand Tillamook is amusingly taking its turn with an effort to change Independence Day into revolutionary moment for 100 percent natural cheese products. 

As you most likely already know, American cheese isn't, strictly speaking, cheese; it's a type of processed cheese. The FDA, in fact, has pretty strict regulations about how cheese brands label it. Tillamook's currently campaign, launched earlier this year by 72andSunny, is "Dairy Done Right," and the brand thought this July 4 would be an apt time to take a stance on American cheese. The funny, overwrought ads feature an animated Abraham Lincoln campaign against (and at one point stabbing with a sword) artificial American cheese.

"We wanted to start educating people that there's a right way to make dairy products and a not-so-right way," said John Russell, chief marketing officer at Tillamook. "We realized we had an opportunity to make our message that much more culturally relevant [during certain times of the year]."

In the new spots, which launched Wednesday, the brand says it hacked its own media buy: instead of airing its previous "Dairy Done Right" ads, the brand has been and will continue to air its "Un-American Cheese" spots through the Fourth.

"Everyone knows what processed, or American cheese, is but they don't know exactly what it is and how it is different from 100 percent natural cheese," said Russell. "Everyone is going to be going out buying a bunch of cheese slices for their Fourth of July barbecues, so this is a great time to point out, in a fun way, that American cheese is not so good." 

The brand has also launched a White House petition to get "American" removed from the processed cheese's name. They hope to garner 100,000 signatures for said petition, which they hope will make the White House respond. 

"People eat a lot of American cheese over the Fourth of July," said Kelly Schoeffel, co-head of strategy for 72andSunny. "This was a great way to call out American cheese without calling out an existing brand. It's a moment where you can call out just the existence of American cheese."  

Schoeffel said that the agency chose Lincoln as its activist for "a very specific reason—he's honest Abe! He cannot tell a lie. And American cheese posing as cheese is just that. Or as Seb, our writer, put it in the petition: 'processed, plastic-wrapped slices of deception.'"

Creative Credits:

Brand: Tillamook

Project: Un-American Cheese Campaign

Client: Tillamook County Creamery Association

President & CEO: Patrick Criteser

Senior Director of Marketing: John Russell

Integrated Marketing Manager: Gillian Kennedy

Corporate Communications Manager: Tori Harms

Paid Media and Research Coordinator: Ashley Riggs

Digital Marketing Coordinator: Laura Schatz

Social Media Strategist: Amalya Haver

Events and Retail Marketing Supervisor: Katie Moreland

PR and Packaging Coordinator: Katie Weltner

Consumer Relations Coordinator: Callie O'Sullivan

72andSunny Team

Chief Executive Officer: John Boiler

Chief Creative Officer: Glenn Cole

Group Creative Director: Grant Holland

Creative Director/Designer: Jason Ambrose

Designer: Jessica Lasher

Writer: Sebastian Lyman

Jr. Social Writers: Hilary Smith, Emily Frederick

Jr. Social Designer: Fabienne Wente

Group Strategy Director: Kelly Schoeffel

Strategist: Anneliese Rapp

Group Brand Director: Josh Jefferis

Brand Manager: Laura Hoffman

Brand Coordinator: Lauren DesRosiers

User Experience Design Director: Melissa Bell

Director of Film Production: Sam Baerwald

Sr. Film Producer: Ann Parker

Art Production Coordinator: Nicole Rejwan

Business Affairs Director: Christina Rust

Business Affairs Manager: Maggie Pijanowski

Business Affairs Jr Manager: Jesse Sinkiewicz

Editorial: 72andSunny Studio

Editor: Thomas MacVicar

Creative Director: Ryan Zunkley

Designer / Animator: Jae Yoo

Executive Producer: Jenn Locke

Editorial Producer: Becca Purice

VFX Producer:Tom Slovick

Audio / Sound Design: Matt Kravitz

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.