RIP 'Got Milk?' -- But New Protein Play Could Score

The Tagline That Launched a Thousand Milk Mustaches Wasn't Working Anymore

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I come not to praise "Got Milk?" but to bury it.

Many Americans took the news of the tagline's passing from the national stage fairly hard. It was a classic. It was long-lasting and fun and had emotional resonance.

And it wasn't actually working anymore. Defenders of the MilkPEP campaign originally created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, noted that even if it wasn't boosting sales lately, it at least slowed a precipitous decline. But "slowing the decline" isn't exactly a great metric in the business world.

20140310p30--AdReview
20140310p30--AdReview

At any rate, "Got Milk?" is no longer a national campaign. It's been sent to live out its days on a nice farm in California. Maybe there it will return to its roots -- highlighting moments in which you wish you had milk -- rather than being forced to work as an add-on to the celebrity Milk Mustache campaign.

So let us turn to "Milk Life," the new national campaign from Lowe Campbell Ewald, New York.

As a tagline, "Milk Life" is so inferior to "Got Milk?" that it hardly needs stating. It sounds like a parody of advertising.

But the selling proposition here is a slam-dunk. Protein, as they say, is on trend. So positioning milk as source of protein -- and one a lot quicker and easier than, say, downing a chicken breast at breakfast -- is smart.

The 30-second "Milk Life Anthem" spot is curious, at best. I'll give MilkPEP and Lowe credit for not resorting to 90 seconds of bad poetry. The music is a little over the top. And the visuals sometimes cross the line from kind of cool -- the milk propellers -- to kind of gross -- splashing through milk to make a basketball shot.

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The spot might be a bit on the grandiose side, but print ads are more specific and therefore stronger. "What 8 grams of protein looks like when you're breaking the laws of physics," reads one. "What 8 grams of protein looks like when you bring justice to the living room," reads another. The visuals work better in print as well. The freeze-frames of break dancing and playing basketball amid a swirl of milk are arresting without crossing the line into "Ewww, milk shower." Combined, these print ads make it clear that milk is powering people through physical activity.

If MilkPEP and Lowe evolve this campaign carefully, it might be able to power sales as well.

At least until the next round of research shows that protein will send us all to an early grave.

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