California Milk Processor Board

Author:Allison Porter, Kevin Teague

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1801A Fourth Street

Berkeley, California 94710


Telephone: (510) 883-1085

Fax: (510) 883-1085


Web site:


In the mid-1990s, with the emergence of new juices, fruit drinks, iced teas, coffee drinks, bottled waters, and soft drinks, Californians were drinking less milk every year. Milk consumption per capita in California had dropped 6 percent between 1987 and 1992. Before 1993 most of California's dairy advertising was funded either by the National Dairy Board (an organization of dairy farmers) or by the government-run California Milk Advisory Board. Together the two spent an estimated $13 million to promote the statewide consumption of dairy products. The budget was meager compared with those of other beverage companies. Dairy farmers could not compete with titans such as PepsiCo, Inc., and the Coca-Cola Company. The latter spent $100 million in 1992 to advertise just one of its brands, Coca-Cola Classic. Realizing that the dairy industry needed outside assistance, the California Department of Food and Agriculture formed the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) in 1993. A few months later the CMPB released its "Got Milk?" campaign.

The ad agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners (GS&P) created "Got Milk?" with the CMPB's $23 million annual budget. Previous campaigns had been aimed at people who did not consume milk, but the agency's research led it to target a different audience: people who were already milk drinkers. It concluded that "milk is usually consumed with something else, and that the only time people really think about milk is when they've run out of it." The print, television, radio, and billboard campaign debuted on October 29, 1993, with a television spot titled "Aaron Burr." The spot featured a history scholar who lost a radio trivia contest because his mouth was full of a peanut-butter sandwich and he was out of milk. "Got Milk?" continued for more than a decade and included television spots parodying steroid abuse in Major League Baseball and aliens that abducted cows for their milk.

Awards given to the first spot foretold the campaign's eminent success. "Aaron Burr" garnered three Gold Clios, the Grand Prix Clio for Commercial of the Year, one Gold EFFIE, and one Silver Lion at the 1994 Cannes International Advertising Festival. One year after the campaign began, milk sales in California had increased 7 percent.


According to the California Milk Advisory Board, from 1980 to 1993 annual milk consumption in California dropped from 30 to 24.1 gallons of milk per person. Before the formation of the CMPB the two leading entities that advertised dairy products in California were the National Dairy Board, an organization of dairy

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farmers that spent an estimated $2 million annually on television commercials, and the California Milk Advisory Board, which was formed in 1969 by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to promote dairy products. In 1992 the latter spent an estimated $11 million to advertise milk and other dairy products. One of its most memorable campaigns was "Milk. It Does A Body Good," created by the ad agency McCann-Erickson in the 1980s. Despite such efforts, milk was losing business to larger beverage makers, and eventually the state intervened. The California Department of Food and Agriculture established the California Milk Processor Board in February 1993. The fledgling CMPB was allocated $23 million for an advertising campaign.

Jeff Goodby, the cochairman of the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, helped win CMPB's account by offering a compelling explanation for most consumers' need for milk. He suggested building a campaign around his theory that the only time consumers really wanted milk was when they had run out of it. Goodby then challenged his agency's creatives to develop stories of people who needed milk more than others. He suggested that, as a guideline, they use Steven Spielberg's 1971 thriller Duel, in which a malevolent truck driver...

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