Tillamook Cheese Factory's transition

Tillamook Cheese Factory's transition

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0213 Tillamook 03
Like many small communities, Tillamook has seen better days. But Mayor Suzanne Weber is hopeful that the city can work with local businesses, including TCCA, to revitalize the town.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears

The creamery has long been a household name in the Northwest with reams of loyal fans who wouldn’t think of melting anything but Tillamook cheddar on their grilled cheese. But outside the region, even though its products are available in all 50 states, the brand is still a relative stranger. That’s something that Criteser and the TCCA are working to change.

“It’s interesting to be a part of a company that is so well-known in some communities and so unknown in others,” Criteser says, adding that it’s challenging for Tillamook to break the hold that brands like Kraft have on retail shelf space elsewhere in the country.

Before Criteser arrived — after former CEO Harold Strunk stepped down in June — Tillamook was already well into an expanded, multiyear, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that’s working to expose the brand to new consumers. The campaign has included advertisements, a digital marketing and social media push — Tillamook dedicates five employees to digital marketing, and its Facebook page is liked by nearly 300,000 people — and the “Loaf Love Tour,” which has brand ambassadors visiting hundreds of cities in converted VW buses sharing Tillamook products.

Although the marketing efforts have hit multiple states, the main focus has been Texas, where response has been encouraging.

“As we move into different areas, we’re having to have a different conversation with consumers to introduce them to the product and the brand,” Criteser says. “Once we do that, we get a great response.”

Criteser says Tillamook will continue to work on expanding its reach. He also says there’s room to introduce existing fans to Tillamook products that might be new to them or to new offerings altogether.