Delivering integrated communications to drive significant cost reduction

Dean Foods: Delivering integrated communications to drive significant cost reduction


Dean Foods, one of the leading food and beverage companies in the United States and a European leader in branded soy foods and beverages, faced a market undergoing a fundamental shift triggered by the tough economy. The company’s core dairy business experienced a powerful margin squeeze as consumers and customers demanded lower prices at the same time as commodity prices surged.

To win in this marketplace, Dean Foods needed to build an organization with a significantly lower cost structure while enhancing its ability to deliver on customer and consumer expectations. A key milestone
in creating this new structure was achieving near-term SG&A cost reduction of 10 percent, or $30 million. At the same time, the organization strived to put in place a long-term advantaged SG&A cost structure that offered the right balance of best-in-class and lowest cost capabilities.


  • Established a change communication “Master Agreement” across all programs and developed common messages, tools, approach and cadence.
  • Set the pace and sequencing of communication activities at enterprise, program and workstream levels.
  • Defined clear roles and responsibilities.
  • Established a consistent decision-making and approval process.
  • Created a unifying  story to engage key stakeholders.
  • Established  “rules of engagement” between enterprise communication and
    functional workstreams.
  • Activated a consultative, center-led communication approach to maximize resources across areas of risk while at the same time embedding strategic communication resources in each key Program.
  • Conducted an enterprise-wide communication campaign that made the case for change, connected the dots among the varied cost reduction initiatives and highlighted successes on the journey.


  • Reduced SG&A costs by approximately $22 million lower year -over-year.
  • Implemented changes in operating processes, procedures and organizational structure within the IT, Finance and HR organizations to achieve cost-advantaged structure.
  • Conducted reductions in force in a paced and sequenced manner designed to minimize disruptions and supported by strategic leadership communications that set context for the decisions.
  • Showcased leadership as visible advocates for the transformation.
  • Conducted two successful senior leadership meetings that aligned the Top 100 around transformation priorities and their role in the leading the change.
  • Delivered leadership communication toolkits to the Top 100 to coincide with key transformation and business milestones.

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