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We have nothing against cows. We love cows," says Jim Page. "We just didn't want them in our advertising."

That might seem like an odd pronouncement from the VP-Marketing at Dean Foods, one of the country's largest dairies.

But Mr. Page, who last year shepherded Dean's Milk Chugs -- arguably the hottest new product in the industry -- says the goal was to get away from standard milk imagery. From packaging to marketing, everything to do with Chugs had to fit the credo, "the cool refreshing body fuel for people on the go," he says.

Dean's problem was that full 80% of all milk is consumed at home. The company set out to fix that with a plastic, resealable bottle with the whimsical shape of old milk bottles and a wide, chuggable-mouth.

A test at Dean's Mayfield Dairy in Tennessee was impressively successful, prompting greater distribution in early 1996 and a $15 million advertising campaign from Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago. Themed "Milk. Where you want it," the TV effort used colorful animation set to a hip-hop version of singer Roger Miller's "Chug A Lug."

In outdoor ads, a Chug was tucked in the back pocket of jeans.

The payoff has been volume growth "in the 75% to 100% range," says Mr. Page, 49.

"In chocolate milks, we've been running in the 200% volume growth range," he adds.

By the end of this year, Dean's plans to have Chugs rolled out into all of its marketing geography. Chugs will debut in a strawberry variety this month.

Still, Mr. Page says there's a lot more work to do before milk becomes an automatic choice for on-the-go consumers.

"We're trying to make milk easier to drink. Chugs are a great start."

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