Calif. Group Targets Adults With More Serious Ad About Health Benefits

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- The California Milk Processor Board, whose "Got Milk?" strategy once likened eternal damnation to not having a cold glass of the white stuff to wash down cookies with, is kicking off a new campaign that touts milk's nutritional benefits.

The statewide effort, breaking Feb. 5, is built around an additional tagline, "Strength comes from within." The strength campaign "is aimed at adults who begin to think that dropping milk from the diet is OK," said Jeff Manning, the milk board's executive director. Mr. Manning said the new spot is called "X-ray," in which a camera pans over various X-rays to show bones.

The ad is more serious in tone than the "Got Milk?" ads, even featuring the music from the Oscar-winning movie The English Patient. The new ad is part of a broader effort that includes the Internet and public relations efforts as well as a contest in which consumers will be asked to send their old X-rays to the milk board for possible use in future commercials. Additional spots backing the strength concept are expected to roll out later this year.

$20 million
The milk board spends $20 million on advertising in California. Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, is the board's ad agency.

Mr. Manning said he decided to begin a new selling strategy as a result of changes in the milk market. In recent years, calcium, which is found abundantly in milk, has been added to everything from orange juice and soy milk to bread and crackers and even cereal. Nonetheless, Mr. Manning said, the state's milk processors had a slight increase in sales last year, up 1.5%, after flat levels since 1996.

"I don't know why," he said of the increase. "Maybe people are having more lattes."

'Deprivation' strategy
When the board was created in 1993, it saturated the state with an ad campaign tagged "Milk, it does a body good" that focused on milk's health benefits. The campaign shifted taglines to "Got Milk?" and its overall tone to a humorous "deprivation" strategy based on the idea that consumers missed milk when they didn't have any in the fridge.

The milk board also licenses the "Got Milk?" line to a number of organizations, including Dairy Management Inc. and other national and regional dairy groups, putting it into a more widespread distribution.

The strength campaign will run first in California and then may be picked up by a number of milk groups nationally, Mr. Manning said.

Oh, the horror
The milk board is not dropping  humor entirely. An ad in the "Got Milk?" theme parodies the horror movie The Omen. A little boy arrives at a birthday party just as a group of children are about to eat chocolate cake. The boy shouts, "Don't eat it!" A woman runs into the room and screeches. She is holding an empty milk carton.

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