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Got Milk2 - from AmazonGot milk has got me in tears – tears, I say!

In October 1993, I was literally just a few days into being a teenager when one magical commercial taught me three important facts that stuck with me:

  • Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton
  • Don’t eat peanut butter without a frosty beverage handy
  • Milk is amazing

Yes, I am referring to the first-ever “Got Milk” commercial– this one.

For the next 20 years, I would eagerly flip through People Magazine to see the newest celebrity donning a milk moustache as the “Got Milk” campaign became – to me, at least – the most iconic brand campaign of all time (sorry “Like Mike!” and “I’m Going to Disneyland!”).

And I wasn’t the only one. According to the New Yorker, by the mid-‘90s, 91 percent of adults surveyed in the United States were familiar with the campaign. And – there was once even a “Got Milk?” Barbie!

But here’s the thing – despite being beloved and amongst the most effective branding campaigns of all time; apparently the campaign never technically sold more milk, says the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability.

So, it was announced in recent weeks that “Got Milk?” has been “gotten” enough – and it’s over. It will be replaced with something called “Milk Life,” and I think this is the dumbest thing of all time!

Or is it…

Remember “New Coke?” Well, then aside from being old since I was too young to remember it, many experts theorize it was meant to fail – to remind us how much we love “Regular Coke.” So, could this just be milk’s wily way of getting our attention? Its way of making us demand our beloved campaign? Its way of getting us to buy milk to literally support the campaign?

I sure hope so.

Don’t you?

Bonus – comment with your favorite and least-favorite “Got Milk?” celeb ads of all time. While Burr is up there, my fave has to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s series of ads, while least would have to be the ‘roided Mark McGwire ad (since we all know milk was not what was juicing him up!).

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

14 Comments

  1. Mark Roden says:

    Not sure which is morr outdated – “Got milk?” or doing the wave at a sporting event, but either way the sooner they retire them the happier I will be. Most ad campaigns that win awards fall to sell more product – remember “where’s the beef?” (Not you Alison LOL) Famous and part of the advertising lore, but everyone remembered the ad but failed to remember who the ad was promoting. Give me an ad that can seal a presidential election in a matter of days (Morning in America, anyone?) and THAT’S fascinating.

  2. Alison Bailin says:

    Your point is right on with the data, Mark – milk sales were not impacted by who shot Alexander Hamilton! Still, sad to see them go…

  3. Brian Archambault says:

    hm.. my family already drinks so much milk already, cereal anyone? perhaps we are a saturated market.

  4. Megan Johnson says:

    I find it interesting that this ad campaign has lasted so long with so many celebrities. It’s funny that these ads have featured everyone from Batman to Taylor Swift to Cookie Monster. It reminds me a bit of Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, which discusses trends and how they work. The “Got Milk?” ads ride on growing trends, and use celebrities within those trends to remain on center stage. In that respect, it is quite ingenious. Essentially, this ad tags on to trends with something as simple as milk so that people notice. It is quite brilliantly executed.

  5. Christopher Karls says:

    My favorite one was the Austin Powers one due to the fact that it felt funny and appealing and my least favorite was the Pikachu one cause it felt like it was trying just to get the ads to sell not the milk which is the primary focus. Also it felt like for some of the people in the advertisements were just in it for their in publicity and not the primary cause milk.

  6. Marc Silverman says:

    My favorite Got Milk ad would have to be the X-Ray ad with the title “Prognosis: Strong Bones”. My least favorite, on the other hand, is the ad featuring Chris Brown.

    As for reasons for the name change, I disagree with the theory that it is meant to fail. Even by 2003 it was outdated at ten years old. Presuming that Got Milk is made to target youth, web exposure, such as the article you wrote, is necessary. By creating rumors about a possible name change, Got Milk is already getting their name out there in preparation for a large-scale online ad campaign.

    We’re all aware that today’s generation is that which is technology oriented. Today’s generation is the one known for overusing smartphones in real life social situations, putting ridiculous amounts of time and money into video games, and spending countless hours simply browsing the internet. As unfortunate as this reality is, it essentially means that the absolute best way to reach youth is through the internet. Hopefully, the advertisement will target youth through the internet. After all, sitting at a computer all day doesn’t exactly do wonders for those muscles!

  7. Karaline P says:

    I like the Jackie Chan “got milk?” advertisement the best and the contortionist Cirque del Soleil advertisement the least. I believe the “got milk?” advertisements are some of the most well executed examples of testimonial propaganda. I’ms surprised to hear that never increased sales for milk. Your perspective on the ending of the series is something I would have never considered, especially considering this series of advertisements has lasted for over 20 years, which strikes me as a very long time. However, I find it hard to believe that an advertisement, which failed to increase sales, would be very effective in raising sales after it was gone.

  8. Aydyn Fernandez says:

    The High School Musical “got milk?” advertisement had to be the best, its so silly! The “got milk?” signature milk mustache has been slapped on every celebrity face for the past 20 years; if you weren’t on one then who where you? I think that it is crazy that these ads are being cut cold turkey; the posters were diffused in to every elementary school cafeteria in America and every child remembers passing by them, their favorite celebrity plastered on it, with milk above their upper lip. In Malcom Gladwell’s novel the Tipping Point it describes the stickiness factor, and the posters used just that by using famous characters and trademark mustache on every poster/ad. Overall I am disappointed that the ads are being discontinued, especially with out making an One Direction one. 🙁

  9. Angela McChesney says:

    My favorite, “Got milk?” ad has to be Steven Tyler sporting a milk mustache. In this particular ad it states, “They say calcium in milk keeps bones grown’ and rocking’ until you’re about 35 and strong long after. Ya think soda can do that? Dream on.” This addresses the idea of unhealthy choices and subconsciously informs kids across America about their influential decisions through their favorite celebrities. Still, the widespread epidemic of coke and mountain dew still pours into the mouths of teens and children everyday. This reminds me of the ideas displayed Malcolm Gladwell’s, “The Tipping Point”. In a Q&A, he talks about the typical behavior of epidemics: they blow up and die out very quickly, and even the smallest of changes start their contagious spread. This ties back to the epidemic of Got Milk ads, and how, after years of infecting people, the ads are finally dying out. It’s quite disappointing actually, I remember seeing these posters over the milk coolers while standing in my 3rd grade cafeteria line.

  10. Jasmine Amoako-Agyei says:

    It is impressive that an ad such as this one has lasted for as long as it has and also developed into a worldwide phenomenon. From Larry King, Bart and Lisa to Martha Stewart, the use of implementing universally known celebrities in these ads led to a “tipping point” by attracting a larger audience. The phrase”Got milk?” has turned into something more than just an ad but into a popular trend among the current generation. Though the target towards getting youth to drink more milk wasn’t exactly accomplished, it definitely got its word out!

  11. Alyssa Unell says:

    My favorite ‘got milk?’ advertisement would probably be Hayden Panettiere’s, because of the way she is crushing the milk glass (you can see which one I am talking about here: http://www.heroestheseries.com/masi-oka-and-hayden-panettiere-got-milk-ads/). Underneath Hayden’s pose it also states, “Smash hit by Hayden. Body by milk.” I think that this is important to remember; no matter how much you follow the rules (like taking all your vitamins), nothing will come of it unless you do the work.

    My least favorite ‘got milk?’ advertisement would have to be the Kiss one (which you can see at the following website: http://milkads.net/view_ad.php?view_name=1999kiss01). I personally just find it frightening, and a little gross. The make-up in conjunction with the guy in the front sticking his tongue out with a sort of chocolate milk makes me gag a little. It is not aesthetically pleasing, which I think is where the ‘got milk?’ ads should pay closer attention to what is satisfactory to the eye.

    We can relate ‘got milk?’ advertising techniques to the modern day society surrounding us. We all want to be rich, pretty, and famous, and so by tacking into the idea that all the cool kids are drinking milk, we are tapping into societal problems. This is how drug use and alcohol use are brought up in many schools: “All the cool kids are doing it.” By ‘got milk?’ doing it, we know that this technique can be used in any scenario. I personally think that this is a contributor to what makes us human; the need to not only fit in, but feel accepted and loved in the eyes that you choose. Many animals want to feel accepted in a pack, but humans do not act nor want to be accepted into a pack. We want to be accepted into the social group of our choosing, and by showing us that this alpha social status is drinking milk, one can only hope that we will all want to fit in drink milk with them.

  12. Emily Tenaglia says:

    My favorite “Got Milk?” ad is the one with Monster’s University. My least favorite is the one with Amy Van Dyken. The “Got Milk?” ads use one of the most successful forms of propaganda: they use celebrities to sell the information. “Got Milk?” ads were created to sell milk, obviously, but ended up becoming a trend. In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he discusses epidemics, and how they are triggered by the stickiness factor. “Got Milk?” was really sticky because they used influential people to sell the information, and because of their simplicity. Anyone can understand one of the short ads. So it stuck, and turned from an average ad into a trend. “Got Milk?” became an epidemic: you were a nobody if you weren’t on one of their ads. And once that happened, once the tipping point occurred, it became less about selling milk and more about who is on the ad. I mean, if you look at a got milk ad, do you look at the celebrity and their picture, or do you get encouraged to drink more milk by reading the facts they put on the ads? And over time, they have gotten less about the nutritional facts of milk and more about funny sayings by the celebrities.

  13. Victoria Tran says:

    I am just so amazed that this ad is still going on! It’s hard to keep a word epidemic going and going and going. My favorite has to be the batman one, it gives it a serious tone to where you really should drink milk as that builds strong bones, but you also have a little bit of Humor to lighten up the mood. 😀 My least favorite one I have to say is the one with Michelle the ice skating one, I didn’t like this ad because it was in the middle of her Ice skating on the rink which looks a bit weird I have to say, it would have been better if she would just stand up holding her skates in her hand or something. I don’t believe that the Got Milk? ad really worked because I thought that most people took it as a joke or something but its always nice to see one of these.

  14. Victoria Tran says:

    But then it’s sad to see it gone :'( I am gonna miss those funny ones with the celebs.

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