NFL Brings Star Power to Milk Promotion

Aug 15, 2016
NFL player runs by students

Poll any group of young boys in the United States and at least half will tell you they want to play in the NFL when they grow up. But that may not be a bad thing, when they equate athletic performance with milk consumption. And two dairy ambassadors with major star power are doing their part to make sure that’s the case.

Barry Church, safety for the Dallas Cowboys, and Duane Brown, tackle for the Houston Texans, work with Dairy MAX through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles to kids in their communities and beyond. Jennie McDowell, Dairy MAX's director of industry marketing, says relationships with such popular athletes really help drive success.

“The star power that Barry and Duane bring to the table really gets schools — both teachers and kids — excited in participating in Fuel Up to Play 60,” McDowell says.

Though only in its fifth year, Fuel Up to Play 60 is already the leading school health and wellness program in the U.S. With 73,000 participating schools, the program impacts 13 million kids per day.

“We attribute that success to several things,” McDowell says. “The great nutrition messaging that comes from our health and wellness expertise and the boots on the ground that we have in our school marketing teams that are out there every day helping schools to do more and provide healthier meals and to keep kids active. But no doubt, much of it comes from our partnership with the NFL and our relationships with the players.”

McDowell says the partnership is a great fit, something that benefits both Dairy MAX and the NFL.

“Our NFL partners really believe in the program,” she says. “They see it as an opportunity to help them do two things: Build their reputation in the community and reach school-age children, a very important demographic. They see this as another way to really do that.”

McDowell says research has shown the team one supports at 11 years old is “pretty much going to be your team for life,” so there’s extra incentive to interact with that potential fan base in a meaningful and positive way. It’s also a great time to influence the next generation of dairy consumers.

She says Church and Brown were both chosen very carefully to represent Dairy MAX  and have done an exceptional job teaching school kids the importance of nutrient-dense dairy products.

Church has a great story to share: When an ankle injury threatened his career in one of his first seasons in the NFL, No. 42 had to completely overhaul his diet and change his nutrition base to get back in shape and return the following season. Likewise, Brown, who is the longest-tenured member of the Houston Texans, can share firsthand the importance of good nutrition. With a family history of diabetes, he’s extra careful about diet and overall wellness and is focused on sharing that information with kids.

But a love of health and wellness isn’t the only criteria for representing Dairy MAX — character counts in a big way, McDowell says.

“We go through a huge process of vetting these guys,” she says. “First, it's really important to us that they are of good character. That they're good role models and the type of people we want to take to schools. Second, that they are serious folks who will show up to the events and be good spokespeople. The third is that they really do care about what we talk about.”

Because the more they care about it, the more their young fans will. And that’s good news for dairy producers.