Home » OPINION » Columns » Todd Smith's Spin Cycle — Not milk! It’s end of era for milk industry’s iconic ‘Got Milk?’ campaign

Todd Smith's Spin Cycle — Not milk! It’s end of era for milk industry’s iconic ‘Got Milk?’ campaign

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

You have to say they milked this for all it was worth!

The iconic “Got Milk?” campaign that vaulted the national milk industry to the pinnacle of brand awareness and positioned this bovine nectar in the hearts and minds of generations has been put out to pasture. The Milk Processor Education Program retired the fabled ad slogan to march out a new campaign and tagline — “Milk Life” — to emphasize a new direction that focuses on milk’s nutritional benefits and protein content.

The change is part of a national campaign aimed at returned the sluggish dairy milk category to growth. The milk industry had been using the “Got Milk?” tagline since 1995 when the phrase was licensed from the California Milk Processor board. The state group began using the tagline in 1993 after it was created by San Francisco ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

The California processors are keeping the tagline, which is one of the most recognizable and parodied phrases in the history of advertising.

But the national group, whose agency is Lowe Campbell Ewald, N.Y., is moo-ving in another direction as it looks to boost milk sales, which are suffering as other beverages gain ground and cereal sales stall. Euromonitor International recently estimated that drinking-milk retail sales volume declined by about 1 percent last year.

The national group, known as MilkPEP, plans to spend more than $50 million on the campaign, which will include TV, print, digital, retail promotions and PR. One TV ad visually depicts liquid milk powering consumers through activities like running, playing basketball or playing in a rock band. Print ads feature a young woman playing an electric guitar and is captioned: “What 8 grams of protein looks like when you unleash your inner rock star.”

The organization began the transition in recent months with “protein fight club” ads that positioned milk against other alternatives, like omelets, which are depicted as being messier.

The nutritional pitch is a very different positioning from the original concept that spurred the creation of “Got Milk,” which was to dramatize situations in which consumers suffer without milk to accompany foods like cake and cookies. One of the original ads created for the California group showed a man who failed a radio contest quiz question — “Who shot Alexander Hamilton?” — because he lacked milk to clear his mouth after munching on a peanut butter sandwich.

The national group, conversely, is zeroing in on mornings, which accounts for an estimated 50 percent of milk consumption.

But the group will be fighting consumer headwinds that have made dairy milk less relevant at sunrise. “Americans in decades past may have had a bowl of breakfast cereal with cow’s milk in the mornings,” Euromonitor stated in a report. “Now, consumers are skipping breakfast, picking up a breakfast sandwich at a fast food restaurant, or eating yogurt or energy and nutrition snack bars instead.”

The milk industry might soon get a boost from the cereal industry. Kellogg Co. is creating a new “masterbrand” campaign that will include elements of plugging milk and cereal together. For its part, MilkPEP plans to focus on milk from a glass, which it says accounts for 57 percent of volume.

The marketing investment comes as cow’s milk is battling newly aggressive non-dairy milk brands. The Silk brand, which makes almond and soy milk, is running a new campaign that plugs its plant-based milks as having “delicious taste that is better than dairy milk.” The effort features a new animated character that Silk execs refer to as “Phil.” That is a reference to chlorophyll, which is the green pigment found in plants.

Stay tuned to see if the cow chomps on this cud competition!


Got Brand Friends?

Forget friending someone. It seems friending something is all the rage. People have quadrupled the friending of brands on Facebook, with the average consumer boasting 29 brand friends on the social networking site — up from just seven a year ago. Digital trendsetters have a much higher number — 76 brand friends.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re spending time with them. Less than half of us (39 percent) interact with brands regularly or all the time, with the rest doing so occasionally (33 percent) or hardly/never (28 percent), according to the latest edition of The Curve Report from NBCUniversal Integrated Media. Clearly, brands could be more proactive in keeping consumers interested. The chief reason given by people who don’t engage with brands on social networks is that they only “like” brands to cash in on a deal.

The survey highlighted some interesting brand trends:

» 56 percent said brands are very or somewhat effective at grabbing their attention

» 22 percent were neutral

» 9 percent felt they were somewhat effective or ineffective.

Why the social brand shortcomings and lack of brand engagement?

» 24 percent just like brands to get a deal

» 21 percent feel brands don’t take the necessary steps to build community

» 18 percent say brands don’t act authentic

» 17 percent say brands try to hard to interact and become turn-offs

» 8 percent feel brands don’t update their websites or interact with their community enough.


10 Words To Put In The Marketing Trash

I have always been enthralled with words, and have built my career on positioning words to create lasting meaning and impact. Many of my colleagues have taken to calling me WordSmith over the years. From time to time, I like to reflect on the lexicon of our lives — and the buzzwords that fuel our passion.

Some of the words that buzz around us far too often are in dire need of a blast of wasp spray. Here’s a collection of overly — and overtly — used marketing terms that are beginning to cause hives to the Spin Cycle:


Top 10 Overly Used Words:

1. Revolutionary — Why? Marketing speak. This adjective was particularly popular in the 90s, and used to describe even the slightest of company or product improvements. Did your product or service cause people to bow down to your brand or completely change the way of thinking in your field? Did it cause a paradigm shift? Most “revolutionary” claims are revolting.

2. Qualified — this word is overly used and too generic. Refrain from using this word to publicize a product or service. Never include it in a new release. It’s the quickest way to tick off an editor and end up at the bottom of the round file. Instead, give details that answers some of the 5Ws: Who, what, when — and most importantly, why. Include the facts or avoid the term completely.

3. Talent acquisition — this is just hokey business jargon. In other words, this is called recruitment, a much better, more descriptive word.

4. Mission critical — although this word launched with such promise and good intention, it has become tired and lazy. It’s now used on everything from government relations to peanut butter.

5. Cloud-computing — this is just ill defined. 
There are three aspects to the NIST definition of cloud computing: Software as a service; platform as a service; and infrastructure as a Service. These three terms are only linked because they use the Internet for something more than transmitting files. Strive to use the specific term of the aspect you mean.

6. Customer-focused — this is just glaringly obvious. Companies and brands exist — and succeed — because they are customer focused. It’s inherent, and shouldn’t be necessary if you are up to your marketing snuff. Tell us how you’re customer-focused, how you go above and beyond. Use this space to show your differentials, highlighting your customer-focused brand.

7. Experienced — most times, this is misleading. A robber is experienced. Experience doesn’t equate to effectiveness. Evidence is the key here — the effect your company has had on the industry, the stability you provide to the market. Prove you are experienced — back it up!

8. Generally — an overused, noncommittal term. Copy should be factual and authoritative. Sweeping and ambiguous adverbs do not give the impression of reliable and valid text.

9. Unparalleled — seriously? This really is about being different. Standing out. Be stronger in your descriptive adjectives. Leading-edge is much better — but never cutting-edge, that, too is an overused, tired cliché!

10. Leader — hyped way too much. Research into the most overused words in PR news releases between 2006 and 2010 tapped “leader” as the most overused word. Apparently, more than 311,000 PR agencies were all leaders in the last four years!

So the next time you plan a news release heralding your need for talent acquisition of experienced and qualified employees for your generally customer-focused revolutionary cloud-computing business, the leader of its field — dial-up another well-crafted — and fresh — message!


Golden Mic | Oscar Winners Lupita Nyong’o, Matthew McConaughey & Cate Blanchett

When it came to the Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o (Supporting Actress, “12 Years A Slave”), Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor, “Dallas Buyers Club”) and Cate Blanchett (Best Actress, “Blue Jasmine”) stole the show. After claiming their golden statues, they delivered the best lines and messages of the Academy Awards. Nyong’o had the most memorable: “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child, that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” The Golden Mic goes to these Silver Screen stars.

The Oscars themselves delivered an overarching message that Hollywood has been advancing for quite some time — acknowledging gay rights with “Dallas Buyers Club” claiming three awards; the depiction of mental illness with “Blue Jasmine;” girl power, with the wins for “Frozen” and its anthem, “Let It Go;” and stories about the African American experience.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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