MILK PRODUCERS FIGHT FAT FATALISM;BIG AD POINTS ARE NUTRITION, KEY PLACE AT TABLE

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Who would have thought beautiful women would ever be plastered on the pages of magazines sporting mustaches?

Milk mustaches, that is.

But the milk industry is trying to make its product as hip as the leading-not to mention slim-ladies of fashion, entertainment and sport.

The "Milk, what a surprise!" campaign, created by New York agency Bozell for the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, represents one of several multimillion-dollar efforts now under way from different segments of the industry.

Milk ads don't lack creativity. Besides the mustache advertising, the "Got milk" campaign that Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, created for the California Milk Processor Board has won a Clio

and two Obies. It has also boosted grocery sales of milk by 7% in

California while the rest of the U.S. stayed flat.

However, consistently moving the sales needle will be a bigger feat since

several problems stubbornly plague the industry:

Milk sales have been going sour for decades.

Controversy has ranged from fat content to the hormones farmers use to

stimulate production.

The industry has at least one zealous, deep-pocketed foe in millionaire

Phil Sokoloff. In his latest $500,000 in ads, created in-house, Mr.

Sokoloff questioned 2% milk's "low-fat" designation.

The producers are reluctant to push their hottest product.

Per capita milk consumption has been dropping since 1970. In '83,

Americans drank 25.9 gallons apiece annually, and a decade later, it was

down nearly 5% to 24.7.

Milk sales totaled $8.8 billion for the 52 weeks ended March 26,

according to Information Resources Inc., up 1.9% from the previous year.

"Milk has been taking a drubbing for the past 30 years," said Jay

Schulberg, chief creative officer at Bozell. "People's attitudes and

perceptions have to be changed."

Milk might benefit from more aggressive ad support, too. Among beverages

in general, milk has a 16% volume share but only 4% of the ad spending.

New-product development was estimated by one industry executive as

one-20th that of soft drinks.

The $52 million milk mustache campaign recognizes the diverse tastes of

milk drinkers. Celebrities like Christie Brinkley, Mary Lou Retton and

Joan Lunden, praise different kinds of milk for various nutritional

reasons.

The campaign could be looking at significant expansion. The promotion

board agreed to fund the work this year on a trial basis; it will vote in

early '96 whether to double the effort.

"All milk advertising before this has basically been generic,

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