Money & Business

Milked for All It Was Worth: "Got Milk" Swapped for "Milk Life"

By / Feb 26, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

One of the trade groups behind the “Got Milk” campaign is taking its marketing in a different direction in an effort to kickstart declining milk sales. Here’s what they came up with.

Sometimes, even the best marketing campaign goes sour.

That’s what a milk-industry trade group is realizing as it transitions from a hugely popular campaign to something a little different. More details:

About the program: For two decades, one of the most prevalent ad campaigns of all time—”Got Milk,” a marketing campaign launched by the California Milk Processor Board and licensed nationally by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP)—helped keep the milk mustache in the front of everyone’s mind. It even launched the career of Michael Bay, who directed the first commercial and went on to bigger and (mostly) better things. Celebrities far and wide showed up in the campaign’s ads, especially in the late ’90s, as this Buzzfeed roundup shows.

Why change it? One thing the campaign didn’t do, at least near the end? Drive milk sales. As Bloomberg Businessweek notes, changes in eating habits—less milk beyond breakfast, an uptick in alternatives such as rice milk—have brought down the yearly consumption of milk and cream, dipping below 200 pounds per capita within the last decade. This is despite the fact that milk portions have stayed relatively consistent during that time, according to a USDA study [PDF]. “Indeed, holding all other factors constant, the gradual replacement in the population of older generations by newer generations will exert downward pressure on Americans’ average consumption of fluid milk,” the study, titled Why Are Americans Consuming Less Fluid Milk, states.

A new approach: This week, MilkPEP announced it was starting fresh, launching a new campaign, “Milk Life,” which intends to shift the focus from celebrities to real-world situations. (The agency taking credit for that new slogan is Lowe Cambell Ewald.) The goal? To show milk’s role as an energy booster. “[Protein is] really in the news and on consumer’s minds,” Julia Kadison, MilkPEP’s interim CEO, told AdAge. “But a lot of people don’t know that milk has protein, so it was very important to make that connection between milk and protein.” The $50 million campaign will focus on many of the same formats that the prior campaign did, including TV, print, and digital. The introductory ad is shown above.

If you still dig “Got Milk,” no worries; it’s not going away completely. The slogan will still do heavy lifting for the California Milk Processor Board—which has recently used the its ads to promote milk’s usefulness as a sleep aid—and MilkPEP still plans to hold onto its license, though it’s unclear whether that means more ads in the future.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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