Brand: Milk (California Milk Processor Board)
Link: Click Here
Target: Performance-Seeking Athletes
A series of five spots from the California Milk Processing Board. These spots are the newest generation of the familiar ‘Got Milk’ campaign, but with a distinctly different execution. The introductory spot starts with a news anchor talking about the suspension of a fictional baseball slugger for using a ‘performance enhancing substance … the substance, said to rebuild muscles and help maintain bone strength was found in the hitter’s locker before game time.” And at this moment the spot cuts to video footage of a league official pulling a carton of milk out of a baseball locker. The slugger is shown responding to reporters, saying ‘I think I’m being unfairly singled out. This stuff is everywhere. You can buy it in broad daylight – it’s on about every corner.” Reports ask him ‘did you pour?’ as he drives away in a black SUV. The other spots in this campaign continue the theme of this performance-enhancing substance as team managers, fellow players and friends discuss the hitter’s milk use.
Major League Baseball is absolutely furious about this campaign – and that is good news for the California Milk Processor Board. They clearly intended this campaign to serve double duty as both advertising and buzz-building PR. Most consumers and fans won’t sympathize with Major League Baseball’s protests because, frankly, the League had this coming. The steriods scandal was already self-parody before ‘Got Milk’ showed up and this campaign serves to highlight the absurdity of the situation. These commercials almost equal the congressional hearings on Baseball steriod abuse as social satire.
There is also a subtler ‘back to basics’ message which provides the brand positioning foundation for the spot. This message is well-timed. When former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski did the PR rounds for his new memoir last week, his confessed addiction to exotic supplements (in addition to steroids) was almost more fascinating than his use of the words ‘I have to live with that’ to deny moral responsibility for most of the unnecessary violence he inflicted around the league. Romanowski has surely ingested the nether regions of animals that we would prefer never to see let alone eat. Beyond his extremism, however, there is certainly a cult of ‘the next big thing’ among health enthusiasts which mirrors our cultural obsession with the new and the young.
‘Got Milk’ knows better. This campaign understands that every cult creates a backlash. The supplement culture has fortified the movement for wholesome foods which favors basic foods and good nutrition. And those people are the core milk customers.
From a brand positioning perspective, this is a different proposition than we’ve seen before for milk, but it does not argue with consumers. The factiod ‘milk helps you build strong bones’ was never an end-benefit as it was sometimes purported to be. As permission to believe for ‘healthier performance,’ it works very well.
Executionally, these spots are well crafted. They are fast-paced, well shot and acted and extremely funny. Milk gets plenty of airtime and is such a central part of the joke that it cannot be ommitted in the re-telling of the story, as so often happens in beer commercials.
Spots that are this cleverly and energetically produced create buzz. But the buzz about this spot is not about milk – it’s about steroids. Even if these spots don’t create a real controversy, it is very possible that the buzz about the spot will drown out the real message in the spot about milk that the California Milk Processing Board wants consumers to hear.
This is a peril of success – if you are too funny, to clever and too topical, people may not get the message that you want to send at all. Advertising that makes us feel good about our intelligence and sense of humor is great – as long as it sells more milk. Hopefully someone will be watching to see if that happens.
Branding Bottom Line:
‘Got Milk’ scores at the expense of MLB.