New 'Got milk?' tactic: Got health?

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The newest ads in the California Milk Processor Board's "Got milk?" campaign add a health message to its successful deprivation strategy. The TV spots broke in that state last week, and will be adopted by national dairy organizations later this year. "I've been resisting the health message from the get-go," said Jeff Manning, executive director of the California board, but new research convinced him otherwise.

National research found that if a mother drank milk, her children would drink twice as much milk as the children of non-milk drinking mothers. The study also showed the only reason women ages 25 to 49 drink milk is for the calcium, which they hope will prevent bone disease later in life.


One new spot from agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, shows a mother urging her children to drink milk with their meal. The children say they want soda, and argue that their elderly neighbor, Mr. Miller, tells them he doesn't need to drink milk. Just then, the children look out the window and see Mr. Miller gardening--when he tries to push a wheelbarrow, his arms fall off. The children are then seen slurping down large glasses of milk.

In a second spot, a TV chef shows off by eating a habanero, planning to immediately gulp a glass of milk because it has elements to counteract the hot pepper. But a stage hand has swiped the milk and in the last scene, the chef appears to have gone up in smoke.

The California board began the award-winning "Got milk?" campaign in 1994, after the state's per capita consumption of milk dropped from 29 gallons in 1980 to 23 gallons in 1993. The advertising, along with a licensing effort and co-op efforts with cereal and cake marketers, has stopped the slide, Mr. Manning said, with consumption leveling off at about 23 gallons.

"Nobody is claiming milk sales will go through the ceiling," he said, noting that prices for a gallon in Southern California have gone up to about $4. "That stuff hurts [sales]," he said.


The campaign built around the so-called deprivation strategy kicked off with a spot entitled "Heaven," in which an executive thinks he's gone to heaven but realizes he is left with a giant refrigerator without milk.

Dairy Management Inc., a group composed of dairy products producers, has licensed "Heaven" and a number of the earlier TV spots for national airing, and is expected to roll out the new California spots in midyear. "The deprivation strategy has proved more flexible and pliant than we thought it was," Mr. Manning said.

Spending in California for the "Got milk?" efforts is expected to be $23 million, with about $5 million to $6 million of that going for the new spots, Mr. Manning said.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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