Milk is getting a plug from another celebrity: The Quaker Oats man, who will sport a milk mustache in ads and on packages as part of a deal between the PepsiCo-owned brand and milk processors.
The Milk Processor Education Program, which is known as MilkPEP, has previously partnered with brands and celebrities on its long-running "Milk Mustache" campaign. But the Quaker deal represents the first time that the white mustache will be included on packaging sold in grocery stores, according to MilkPEP, which is funded by national milk processors and monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Quaker man, who is known internally as Larry, will wear a thin white milk mustache on Quaker Oats canisters that will reach national distribution by October. His 'stache is accompanied on packs with wording that amounts to an ad for the milk industry stating, "Make it with milk for a boost of protein."
MilkPEP has been pushing a protein message since February when it dropped the long-running "Got Milk?" campaign in favor of a campaign by Lowe Campbell Ewald that includes a new tagline, "Milk Life." Quaker is featured at the end of a new ad in the campaign that includes Quaker's tagline, "Quaker Up."
Meanwhile, milk is plugged at the end of a Quaker ad by Energy BBDO, which handles the brand's ads. A print ad (at top), which will run in the Sept. 19 edition of People Magazine, features the milk mustachioed Quaker Man with text declaring: "My outfit is from 1877. My mustache is from this morning."
MilkPEP and Quaker shared costs on the campaign. "Neither party exchanged funds but rather, they combined their marketing efforts to highlight the value and benefit of families starting their day with the 21 grams of protein that can be found in a bowl of oatmeal made and served with lowfat milk," according to an emailed statement from a MilkPEP spokeswoman.
The packaging will run for a limited time through December, or while supplies last. The TV spots will air through the fourth quarter.
The milk industry is making the protein pitch as it continues to battle headwinds that include consumers gravitating to non-milk breakfast options such as yogurt, fast-food sandwiches and snack bars. Milk sales grew slightly in 2013 to $14.42 billion from $14.4 billion the year before, but that remains below the recent peak of $16.4 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor International.
Quaker Oats, of course, can be made with water, not milk. But in the ads, Quaker states that when made with low-fat milk and consumed with a glass of milk, the meal "gives you 21 grams of protein." The messaging echos other recent food advertising that has been making a big deal out of protein.
The milk industry's partnership with Quaker follows a co-branded campaign last year with Kellogg Co. that included ad showing actor Taye Diggs sporting a milk mustache. More recently, Kellogg has been running a campaign plugging milk and cereal together, including the TV spot below that features several Kellogg's cereal brands. MilkPEP was not directly involved in the production of this spot, according to the group.