Dairy Magazine Editorial: Have Milk Ads Failed?
If the Hudson River parts this week on the final day
of Passover so that I can lead my people (the New
Jersey tax-slaves) and free them from paying the $6
car-toll to Manhattan, I would not be as surprised as
I was after having read the headline to the commentary
written by the editors of Hoard's Dairyman. Hoard's
Dairyman is the self-described "National Dairy Farm"
magazine. On page 310 of the April 25, 2005 issue,
Hoard's editors asked:
"'Got Milk?' and 'Milk Mustache' Have They Failed Us?"
An admission of this sort was monumental for the dairy
industry's snow-jobbers, I thought, and it was about time
that Hoard's looked truth in the face, however painful
such revelations turn out to be.
A rhetorical question is one that has an obvious wrong
and obvious right answer. Children under the age of three
and Portuguese-speaking Armadillos might incorrectly respond
after being asked a rhetorical question in English. Guppies
might blow bubbles, and cows might moo, but all others
would have no trouble answering rhetorical answers correctly.
That's what I thought Hoard's was doing after reading their
Instead, Hoard's blew this one, big time.
After reading the actual editorial, I called three
dairy farmer friends (yes, it's possible), and the
owner/editor of another pro-dairy publication. Each of
the four dairy people I consulted was in strong agreement.
with me. The milk mustache campaign has failed miserably.
Liquid milk consumption has been falling drastically every
year since milk mustache advertising began in 1995. Even
Elsie Siskel and Bessie Ebert give two hooves-down to the
inappropriate milk ads which define America's (and the
dairy industry's) bankrupt philosophy and culture.
Consumers do not take milkstache ads seriously, and dairy
marketing geniuses seem to be getting the opposite of the
desired result from those clever, yet, poorly contrived
The Hoard's editorial was written by a cheerleader holding
pom poms. Rah, rah...go, dairy! Here's the editorial:
"IT HAS been difficult for us to watch the slow, but steady,
decline in fluid milk consumption. Now, more of our promotion
dollars (both producer and processor) are being spent on
strategies to change milk consumption behavior rather than on
big advertising campaigns. So, it's natural that people
wonder whether the "Got Milk?" and "milk mustache campaigns
failed our industry.
First, some background. "Got Milk?" was the 1993 creation of
the highly acclaimed agency, Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners
for the California Milk Processors Board (CMPB). "Got Milk?"
has won about every advertising award you can imagine. In 1995,
the "milk mustache" campaign was developed by MilkPEP, the
National Milk Processor Education Program.
Also in 1995, Dairy Management, Inc., entered into a licensing
agreement with CMPB to make "Got Milk?" a nationwide campaign.
In 1998, DMI and MilkPEP integrated their campaigns, and we began
to see "milk mustache ads with the "Got Milk?" tagline. As part
of the first, nationally integrated fluid marketing effort,
processors focused upon teens and young adults, and DMI targeted
moms and kids. Over the years, processors have spent much more
on these campaigns than dairy farmers."
(Note from the Notmilkman: Don't you just love the phrase,
'targeted moms and kids?' Targets are usually used so that
they become the recipients of sharp and painful invasive
weapons. I do not appreciate being targeted by anyone.)
The editorial continues:
"Still, it's logical to ask, 'Have these high profile
campaigns failed our industry?' In our opinion, the short
answer is 'no.'There is no doubt in our minds that "Got Milk?"
and "milk mustache" have benefited dairy farmers, as well
For one thing, milk consumption may have declined even more
without the campaigns. But beyond that, the campaigns have
resulted in milk having a much more positive image in our
society. Take the case of impressionable youth. We believe
it is a lot less "uncool" to ask for and drink milk that it
was 10 or 15 years ago.
The more positive image that milk enjoys is making our current
promotion strategies more effective. Because of "Got Milk?"
and "milk mustache," students are more apt to respond to
improved milk drinking experiences in school lunch rooms and
at vending machines. These concepts are the basis for fast-food
milk promotions. And these campaigns have made mothers more
receptive to the positive messages about dairy products they
are getting from magazines, talk shows, and health providers.
We do need to recognize that "Got Milk?" is 12 years old, and
"milk mustache" has been around 10 years. Those are long lives
in the advertising world. We may need some fresh approaches.
But what we don't need are any big advertising campaigns or
other costly initiatives that take time, money, and energy away
from our school milk, weight management, and 3-A-Day efforts."
Hoard's is correct on one account. The milk campaigns have been
around a long time, and the messages are more than a bit stale.
Hoard's admits that new approaches are needed. Their bathtub
drain has been opened, and the spiraling whirlpool of negative
health information tied to milk consumption will not cease.
Milk consumption continues to decrease because the dairy
industry has lost all credibility through their corrupt campaign.
The same people who read women's magazines also read health
journals. That is the reason that milk consumption is waning, and
we are all witness to an accelerating decline. We are long past
that point in time when subliminal lies have the power to sell
pus with hormones and glue.