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Got Milk? (stylized as got milk?) was an American advertising campaign encouraging the consumption of cow's milk, which was created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993 and later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers. It ran from October 24, 1993 to February 24, 2014. The campaign has been credited with greatly increasing milk sales in California though not necessarily nationwide.
Got Milk? is one of the most famous commodity brand and influential campaigns in the United States.
The phrase was created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners. In an interview in Art & Copy, a 2009 documentary that focused on the origins of famous advertising slogans, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein said that the phrase almost didn't turn into an advertising campaign. According to a New York Times piece, people at Goodby, Silverstein "thought it was lazy, not to mention grammatically incorrect."
The advertisements would typically feature people in various situations involving dry or sticky foods and treats such as cookies. The person then would find himself in an uncomfortable situation due to a full mouth and no milk to wash it down. At the end of the commercial the character would look sadly to the camera and boldly displayed would be the words, "Got Milk?"
The first Got Milk? advert ran on October 29, 1993, and featured a hapless history buff (played by Sean Whalen) receiving a call to answer a radio station's $10,000 trivia question (voiced by Rob Paulsen), "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" (referring to the Burr–Hamilton duel). The man's apartment is shown to be a private museum to the duel, packed with artifacts. He answers the question correctly, saying "Aaron Burr", but because his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has no milk to wash it down, his answer is unintelligible. The ad, directed by Hollywood director Michael Bay, was at the top of the advertising industry's award circuit in 1994. From 1994 to 1995, fluid milk sales in the 12 regions totaled 23.3 billion pounds, and increased advertising expenditures amounted to $37.9 million. In 2002, the ad was named one of the ten best commercials of all time by a USA Today poll, and was run again nationwide that same year. It has since been featured in books on advertising and used in case studies.
The slogan "Got Milk?" was licensed to the National Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) in 1995 to use on their celebrity print ads, which, since then, have included celebrities from the fields of sports, media and entertainment, as well as fictional characters from TV, video games, and film such as The Simpsons, Batman, Mario, The Powerpuff Girls posing in print advertisements sporting a "milk mustache," employing the slogan, "Where's your mustache?" The milk mustache campaign promoting the Super Bowl has also been featured in USA Today, the Friday edition featured one player from each Super Bowl team to the player from the winning team in Monday's edition. It was not featured in 2014 as the advertising focus that year was on the "Protein Fight Club" campaign which promoted the importance of eating breakfast with milk and the "Refuel: Got Chocolate Milk" campaign.
Former California Gov. Gray Davis expressed his dislike for one commercial and asked if there was a way to remove it from the air. It featured two children who refused to drink milk because their elderly next-door neighbor is energetic despite not drinking it. He is going to use his wheelbarrow when suddenly his arms snap off because, without his consumption of milk, his bones are weak and frail. The now-frightened children scream in terror and then start imbibing the fluid.
In 2006, the campaign went after a new demographic with a series of Spanish-language “Toma Leche?” or “Do you take/drink milk?” ads in which milk is touted as a "wonder tonic" with muscle and hair building qualities.
According to the Got Milk? website, the campaign has over 90% awareness in the US and the tag line has been licensed to dairy boards across the US since 1995. Got Milk? is a powerful property and has been licensed on a range of consumer goods including Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, baby and teen apparel, and kitchenware. The trademarked line has been widely parodied by groups championing a variety of causes. Many of these parodies use a lookalike rather than the actual persons used in the original Got Milk? adverts. In 2005, the California Milk Processor Board created a "Got Ripped Off?" poster showcasing their top 100 favorite parodies of the slogan.
In 2008, the campaign capitalized on the poor economic condition of Americans and used financial adviser and talk show host, Suze Orman, in an effort to advertise milk as a smart and nutritious commodity to purchase.
The voice saying "Got Milk?" in the television commercials is that of veteran voiceover actor Denny Delk, however other anonymous narrators have said the question on occasion.
On February 24, 2014, the Milk Processor Education Program announced it would be discontinuing the 20-year old slogan in favor of a new tagline: "Milk Life".
Beginning in 2011, an advertising campaign was launched primarily attacking the soy milk industry. The themes of these ads are comparable to the Got Milk? ads, but with such messages as "real milk isn't made from beans and nuts" or "real milk requires no shaking".
Parodies and references
The slogan is a snowclone, having appeared in numerous alternative versions on t-shirts, advertisements, and real advertisements. For the most part the California Milk Processor Board has ignored the alternative uses, although in 2007 it threatened lawsuit against PETA for its anti-dairy campaign, "Got Pus?", which began in 2002. By 2007, the slogan had become an international icon and the phrase has been parodied more than any other ad slogan.
In 1999, the Futurama episode "Fear of a Bot Planet" featured a planet inhabited by robots spending their time looking for humans to slaughter them. In their main city, an ad was displayed saying "Got Milk? Then you are a human and must be killed."
In episode 15 of season 9 of Friends Ross claims that he had come up with the idea of "Got Milk?" and he wished he had written it down.
In episode 25 of season 3 of Friends there's a "got milk?" ad on the fridge at Phoebe's house.
In the season 2 finale of 2 Broke Girls in Max's and Caroline's fight scene there is a use of several famous advertising slogans, including "Got Milk?".
In episode 4 of season 1 of Rick and Morty Jerry appropriates 'Got Milk?' into a new advertising campaign for apples: 'Hungry for Apples?'. Though the advertising works in an alien simulation working at minimum capacity, he is subsequently fired when he pitches it to an apple company in the real world.
In episode DP062 "Tanks for the Memories!" of Pokémon Jessie says the phrase while blasting off.
- Adve rtising Educational Foundation. "Got Milk? case history". Aef.com. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Marketing campaign case studies: Got Milk?". Marketing-case-studies.blogspot.com. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- The Birth of ‘Just Do It’ and Other Magic Words. New York Times.
- Aaron Burr Got Milk? The Inspiration Room
- Raine, George (October 22, 2005). "'Got Milk?' ad strikes out with Major League Baseball : Commercial is parody of performance-enhancing substance use". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Toma Leche?". Daveibsen.typepad.com. 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "The top 100 spoofs of "Got milk?"". Adweek. June 28, 2005. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "Suze Orman Joins got milk? Milk Mustache Campaign: New Ad Encourages Families To Invest in Milk's Nutritional Assets" (Press release). Bio-Medicine. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Fun got milk? commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- "Mountain Bike got milk? commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- Erica Werner (2007-12-12). "Suit threatened over Got Milk? parody". USA Today. Associated Press.
- Emily Sweeney (February 26, 2004). "Getting it on their chests". The Boston Globe.
- "Boston magazine cover". July 2004.
- "End Of Road For GOTMILF License Plate". the smoking gun. July 21, 2004. Retrieved 19 June 2012.