Supermarket Tabloid 'Reports' Deep Space Cow Abductions

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- "Got Cows?" That could be the tagline for the new campaign from the California Milk Processor Board as it looks to pique consumers’ interest in milk and raise flat sales.
The milk industry hopes to capture consumer attention with its cows from outer space theme.

'Mysterious cow abductions'
The new effort begins with a story seeded in supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. The story, headlined “Have you seen this cow? Mysterious cow abductions shock California dairymen,” was written by the staff at the tabloid, which specializes in tales of aliens and conspiracies.

The piece is highlighted on the publication’s Web site,, which also asks readers to send in photos of abducted cows. Nowhere is there a mention of the “Got Milk?” sponsorship, though the Web site has a branded “Got Milk?” ad on its home page -- when clicked, the ad shows an alien talking about a miracle elixir obtained from Earth’s cows.

The tabloid’s site also refers readers to, which shows photos of the purportedly stolen animals. It also features video interviews with “farmers” who have gone to great lengths to protect their livestock -- one farmer straps antlers to the heads of his cows; another dresses them in protective grass-like camouflage. The site also includes do-it-yourself plans to build an “Alien Cow Crow,” and with the click of a mouse, visitors to the site can send a grazing cow soaring into outer space.

TV spots break today
Five branded TV spots breaking today explain the aliens’ fascination with the “wonder tonic” that builds bones and teeth, improves sleep and even reduces premenstrual syndrom. Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, created the campaign.

The push aims to build buzz for milk, which has faced stagnant sales as competition grows. “It’s been a frustration,” said Steve James, chairman, California Milk Processor Board. “We are competing for share against sports drinks, waters, fortified drinks and a whole different world of beverages.”

'Got Milk?' losing steam
At the same time, the milk deprivation strategy that worked so well for “Got Milk?” is losing steam in the marketplace. Many of the treats featured in the ads, such as chocolate cake, are under scrutiny for causing obesity, Mr. James said. “We needed to get people to think about milk in a new way,” he said.

Kevin Hyson, chief marketing officer for the Weekly World News, said the topic of aliens stealing cows was a perfect fit for the newspaper. “The Weekly World Wire has covered animal abductions for decades,” he said, calling the paper’s coverage “tongue-in-cheek serious.” He said the paper previously worked on a promotion involving quasi-news coverage with Mini Cooper.

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