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Latest 'Got Milk?' Ad Effort to Target Dieters

Weight-Loss Initiative Backed by Web, PR and Print Campaign

By Published on . 2

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Like presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, milk also will be on the stump in 2008, campaigning for 1 million people to take the "Campaign for Healthy Weight" pledge.

Last week the Milk Processor Education Program unveiled its 2008 print, public relations and web campaign in Times Square that includes the pledge, an effort to encourage a healthy lifestyle and the first "Got Milk?" ad of the year, featuring actress Glenn Close donning the milk mustache.
Glenn Close
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Glenn Close appears in the first milk mustache ad of the year.
The ads are handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, New York.

Tapping dieters' motivations
Consumers are encouraged to go to whymilk.com and vote to take the pledge, part of a new marketing strategy for MilkPEP, which found in research that overall health seems to be the new motivation for many dieters.

In an NPD Group survey of 26,000 adults for MilkPEP, 81% of respondents cited both weight loss and health as reasons for dieting. Among the top 10 diets, "my own diet" was found to be the most popular by a wide margin (33.8% compared to doctor-prescribed diets at 11.8%). And according to the study, 35% of "milk dieters" (those who consumed low-fat or fat-free milk at least 12 times in two weeks) were at a healthy weight compared to 26% of non-milk dieters.

"The No. 1 reason why people come to see me is because they've tried fad diets, they've lost weight, but haven't been able to keep it off," said Lisa Drayer, a registered dietician in New York. "I think people are learning from their own experiences that drastic changes just don't work because they're not sustainable."

The campaign specifically addresses two groups: women and Hispanics. MilkPEP approached women from not only a health standpoint, but a business angle as well. "Generally, women have been historically the real decision maker when it comes to food in the household," MilkPEP CEO Kurt Graetzer said. "She is the influencer ... she is really the key person that is responsible for what's put in the fridge. That's why she's so important."

Reaching Hispanic consumers
Hispanics were seen as a key demographic because of their high incidence toward obesity. Dr. Aliza Lifshitz, a medical expert who spoke on behalf of MilkPEP at a news conference, said nearly one-third of Hispanics are overweight. And Hispanics are a growing demographic: They make up 15% of the population now and are estimated to number 20% by 2010.

But with the increase in the number of organic, soy and vitamin-infused beverages all pitching themselves as healthy, is Mr. Graetzer worried that the overall market is becoming (pardon the pun) over-saturated?

It doesn't seem so. "There are vitamin waters and other products [in the marketplace]," he said, "but the fact is that milk, per ounce, is the least expensive, highest-density nutrient product you can put in your mouth."

Entering 10th year
The "Got Milk?" national campaign, entering its 10th year, is easily one of the most recognizable and oft-imitated. The ads successfully had put a stop to a 20-year milk sales slide. But despite MilkPEP's best efforts to appeal to children, teens and adults, sales have stagnated, and the NDP study found that dieters are still more likely to drink coffee, soda, tea and fruit juice than milk.

"The one thing that we can do is influence people's opinions about milk," Mr. Graetzer said, pointing to the role of the advertising, from Lowe, and PR, from Weber Shandwick. "And consumers now know well what the nutritional impact of milk is. As far as packaging, innovation and pricing, we have no control, and those issues have not been good for milk, over the long haul."
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