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The National Fluid Milk Processors Education Program, embarking on the third year of its $110 million annual advertising campaign, is leveraging its clout with magazines for unusual cross-promotions to drive retail milk sales.

"We took over $10 million out of our core marketing plan [for 1998] and are reinvesting it with magazines that came up with strong in-store programs and tie-ins directly linked to the sale of milk," said Executive Director Kurt Graetzer.

Those plans come as MilkPEP starts a new series of its signature "milk mustache" print ads, with some targeting moms and teen boys; upcoming ads will feature Jonathan Lipnicki and David Copperfield.


While MilkPEP's sizable budget and and celebrity-focused creative have succeeded in changing attitudes about milk as a stodgy, high-fat drink, it hasn't actually driven milk sales until recently.

In 1996, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported milk sales up 1.1% in volume after years of flat or declining sales. MilkPEP said the volume growth equals $220 million in sales. Mr. Graetzer attributes the growth not only to this program but also other high-profile campaigns, such as the California Milk Processor Board and Dairy Management's "Got Milk?"

The goal of the new effort is to get magazines to literally sell milk by offering free issues or other incentives.

With Time Inc.'s Life, MilkPEP is tying in to its "To the Moon & Back" special issue for early 1998 that commemorates man's walk on the moon almost 30 years ago. Life also will sponsor a 13-episode HBO series around the event.

MilkPEP will be the sole sponsor of the issue, which grocery shoppers can get free with the purchase of 2 gallons of milk.

Meredith Corp.'s Ladies' Home Journal and Better Homes & GardensMilk cross-promotion will sponsor a recipe contest asking consumers to send in their favorite recipes. A recipe book will be available for a discounted rate with the same milk purchase.

Conde Nast Publications' Gourmet and Bon Appetit will create similar contests with higher-end recipes, Mr. Graetzer said.


As a testament to the power of MilkPEP as a print advertiser, two strange bedfellows, U.S. News & World Report and Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Family Circle, are teaming to create a special custom one-time title for the milk organization, Your Family's Health. Milk

PEP will be a primary advertiser for the book, available with the purchase of milk.

A tie-in was devised with Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated, with Milk

PEP sponsoring its High School Athlete of the Year Awards. Readers in 22 regions vote for their favorite athlete; winners are featured in Sports Illustrated and get $10,000 scholarships.

Magazines aimed at parents will benefit from MilkPEP's new plans, as the organization refocuses its ad target this year to mothers.

Mr. Graetzer said magazines such as Sesame Street Parents and Parents will be added to its media lineup.

A creative approach aimed at mothers is now being discussed that would bring together famous TV moms such as Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It to Beaver." One celebrity already signed for the effort is pint-size Mr. Lipnicki from "Jerry Maguire," who appears in an ad with the headline, "Hey, Mom, feed me chocolate milk."

An execution soon to break for fat-free milk features magician Da-vid Copperfield; "Late Night With David Letterman" bandleader Paul Shaffer appears in a chocolate milk ad.

Celebrities in the campaign aimed at teen girls include "Home Improvement" star Jonathan Taylor Thomas and pop group Hanson.


MilkPEP won't say who will be featured behind the "milk mustache" in future ads from agency Bozell, New York, but it's a sure bet the agency is approaching astronauts for its Life project.

One promotion that's off MilkPEP's marketing calendar this year is a cover version of the Beatles' "White Album," which would have featured a variety of artists performing the Fab Four's songs. The record would have been available with the purchase of milk.

Mr. Graetzer said the group had no problem with the rights, but was concerned about "warehousing and owning albums."

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