Can a thriving community built on in-person events be sustained in an uncertain and virtual world?
WMBB designs and produces experiences, engagements, and exchanges with a vibrant community of cheese lovers through immersive virtual events, intimate in-person gatherings, an engaging communication platform in a mobile app, a multisensory educational program, and more. WMBB’s work has driven measurable ROI, helping Wisconsin Cheese grow twice as fast as the overall cheese category.
WMBB’s Cheeselandia Community has been celebrated as the American Marketing Association’s BrandSmart Grand Champion, Adweek’s Performance Marketing Campaign of the Year for Influencer Marketing, and has won several other PRSSA awards.
Wisconsin has led the world in artisan, specialty cheesemaking for over two hundred years. As the only place in the U.S. where one can become a Master Cheesemaker and home to the most awarded cheeses in the world, Wisconsin has elevated cheesemaking to an art form.
But, somewhere along the way, Wisconsin Cheese also became synonymous with ordinary, big blocks of cheddar. To address this divide and tap into cheese lovers around the country, Wisconsin Cheese designed and launched an official community named Cheeselandia, which began hosting popular events — think gouda- and gorgonzola-filled pop-up events and bountiful boards at house parties — featuring some of the brightest stars in the extended cheese community.
But, just as this momentum was gathering, a global pandemic fundamentally changed the way we could host neighbors in our homes and the way we connect over a cheeseboard. At a time when many were hitting the pause button, Cheeselandians saw an opportunity to use what they’d built to help them through uncertain times, and WE MUST BE BOLD (WMBB) saw a way to keep gathering and got to work creating the first virtual events for the community.
WMBB developed an engaging, interactive series of virtual events flexible enough for groups ranging from 30 to 3,000 and designed to capture the vibrancy, hospitality, and adventure inherent in the IRL gatherings. Thoughtful multisensory experiences were incorporated, such as providing the same candle scent and encouraging attendees to light them simultaneously or providing training to join a 1,000-person kazoo band. And did we mention the cheese? Over 9,000 boxes were sent so participants could sample along.
Following the success of these events, Cheeselandia and WMBB actively responded to the community’s preferences. WMBB helped to design and launch a mobile community app that allowed members to interact, ask questions, track upcoming events, and more. Activity in the mobile app consistently exceeds all expectations: over 50% of members are active contributors to the app, and 94% confirm plans to stay involved for a long time.
Instead of investing in paid Social Media influencers and pre-packaged messages, WMBB helped Cheeselandia educate their most passionate community members so that they could confidently speak on their behalf in any format at any time. This kind of Social Media presence resonates differently than sponsored posts. Through the pandemic, Cheeselandians engaged on social media at rates 3-5x higher than industry standards, and WMBB-designed email campaigns exceeded 50% open rates and equally high click-through rates.
WMBB continues its relationship with Wisconsin Cheese and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin through work on other projects with the Cheese State University program for Cheesemongers and other community outreach projects.