Aaron Burr (advertisement)
|Agency||Goodby, Silverstein & Partners|
|Client||California Milk Processor Board|
|Release date(s)||October 29, 1993|
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
It was directed by Michael Bay, then a recent film graduate of the Art Center College of Design. Bay directed his first feature film the following year, and quickly became well-known as a commercially successful film director. According to Jeff Goodby, it was Bay who made the ad "visually unforgettable" with "the idea of having this guy live in a warehouse or whatever", resulting in a "mixture of history and weirdness" that was both memorable and funny.
The ad takes place in a warehouse turned into a private museum or shrine, housing a history buff's collection of artifacts revolving around the Burr–Hamilton duel. The hapless history buff, portrayed by Sean Whalen, spreads peanut butter on a piece of bread while listening to classical music on the radio. At the end of the music, the radio host (voiced by Rob Paulsen) announces a $10,000 contest in which he will make a random call and ask the question, "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" The man bites off half his folded sandwich in a single mouthful and knowingly looks around his museum, hearing the gunshot as he looks at the guns used in the duel.
The history buff's phone rings, and he interrupts the announcer mid-question, answering correctly by naming Aaron Burr. However, because of the peanut butter sandwich in his mouth, his answer is unintelligible. He quickly tries to wash the sandwich down with some milk, but as he goes to pour a glass, he is horrified to discover that his milk carton has only a drop left. With only a few seconds left, he tries to say the answer again and again, but the announcer is unable to understand him, and hangs up. The history buff stares sadly at his phone, whispering "Aaron Burr...!"
The ad fades out with a baritone voiceover asking, in a near-mocking tone, "got milk?" as the tagline appears onscreen.
Entertainment Weekly, in a 1997 list, named "Aaron Burr" as the 11th best commercial of all time. The ad appeared in the 1999 Reader's Digest VHS compilation Laugh? I Thought I'd Die!. In 2002, it was named one of the ten best commercials of all time by a USA Today poll.
In 2002, nine years after its initial run, the "Aaron Burr" ad ran again in a nationwide television campaign, which was considered a rarity in the advertising industry. At the 2009 Clio Awards ceremony, the ad was inducted into the Clio Awards Hall of Fame.
In popular culture
In the years that followed the airing of the "Aaron Burr" advertisement, parodies appeared in several television series and other media:
- In 2002, the ad's premise was parodied in The Simpsons episode "Jaws Wired Shut", where character Homer Simpson knows the answer to a trivia question that would win him free beer for life, but is unable to give the answer because his jaws are wired shut.
- The Good Eats episode "Celeryman", which aired in June 2008 on the Food Network, included a parody in which Alton Brown used peanut butter on celery, rather than bread.
- In a sketch on The Bozo Super Sunday Show parodying the ad, Bozo the Clown was unable to win a new bicycle from a radio station because his peanut butter and jelly sandwich rendered him unintelligible.
- In 2015, the producers of the Broadway musical Hamilton recreated the commercial in a nearly shot-for-shot parody, in which the history buff was played by Leslie Odom Jr., who originated the role of Burr in Hamilton.\
- In the Season 10 Episode 46 of the Nostalgia Critic entitled "War of the Commercials" when the Nostalgia Critic discovers that the Aaron Burr milk commercial was directed by Michael Bay there was a cut to a sketch that makes a modern style version of the commercial except a parody of Michael Bay's modern directing style. Except the question is "Who wrote the legend of King Arthur" instead of "Who shot Alexander Hamilton."
- The commercial was a clue in the 2020 Jeopardy! special, Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time. When contestant Brad Rutter answered, he said the name "Aaron Burr" in a muffled, unintelligible tone similar to the commercial.
- MacLeod, Duncan (May 15, 2009). "Aaron Burr Got Milk". Archived from the original on 2018-07-10.
- Raine, George (July 9, 2002). "Popular 'Got Milk?' ad to return / Recycling of 'Aaron Burr' is unusual among TV commercials". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05.
- Oxoby, Marc (2003). The 1990s. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-313-31615-9.
- Daddona, Matthew (June 13, 2018). "Got Milk? How the iconic campaign came to be, 25 years ago". Fast Company. Archived from the original on 2018-06-15.
- Wilson, Stephanie (September 5, 2008). "Behind the Camera". Haute Living. Seth Semilof. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05.
- Snetiker, Marc (May 20, 2015). "Aaron Burr of Broadway's Hamilton recreates that famous "Got Milk?" commercial". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2017-12-17. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- MacLeod, Duncan (May 16, 2009). "Clio TV and Cinema Awards for 2009". Archived from the original on 2017-10-05.
- "CLIO Awards 2009 Winners Archive". Ad Forum. 2009. Archived from the original on 2018-07-26.
- Hamilton: An American Musical channel (June 2, 2015). Got Hamilton? Parody Commercial. YouTube. Retrieved 2015-12-31.