Got Milk Life? Why You Probably Don’t

Growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s I fondly remember the “got milk?” ads and seeing my favorite athletes and entertainers with their milk mustaches.  But unfortunately, the “got milk?” campaign was replaced two years ago with “Milk Life”, and it would not be surprising if you did not know that.  The “got milk?” campaign was arguably one of the best in marketing and advertising history, although it had a long run I feel as though it was a mistake to head in a completely new direction.


One of the main reasons the “got milk?” campaign had such success is that clearly, it was simple.  Simple marketing campaigns are easier to remember and can attaract a larger audience.  Besides being simple, the “got milk?” ad campaign changed the way we felt about milk.  I remember always being excited to have a glass of milk in the morning to emulate Brett Favre or Mark McGwire.  The campaign enabled us to view milk differently, it could be funny, sexy, popular, or just plain cool.  From the original “Aaron Burr” commercial to the more recent “got milk?” ads featuring everyone from Taylor Swift and Dwayne Johnson to Victor Cruz and The Wolverine.  The “got milk” ad campaign was ubiquitous and so well known that I believe it should not have been abandoned.  Perhaps the campaign could have used an update or two, but the core marketing plan could have been salvaged.

wolv milk

With the implementation of the new “Milk Life” campaign in January of 2014 the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) chose to head in a new direction, determining it was time for a change.  The plan now seems to be focused almost entirely on the protein milk has, with the most recent “Milk Life” commercials touting that an 8-ounce serving of milk contains 8 grams of protein.  If you go to the message that awaits you on the homepage is currently, “let’s talk about protein!”.  While it may seem like a good idea to focus on the nutrional benefits of milk, they had tried that in the past and failed with the “good-for-you” ad campaign, with the main issue being that people already know milk is good for you!  For them to now focus on protein so much seems to be a mistake.  There is even  a recommeneded daily protein intake calculator on the “Milk Life” website.  While it is certainly true that society today seems to be much more health concious than ever, focusing on protein may not be quite effective since there are so many alternatives.  On the market today is a superfluous amount of protein shakes, protein waters, protein bars, etc. that proudly boast their protein content.  Entering milk into that fight will surely result in a loss and almost marginalizes milk to the healthy/athletic crowd.  In order to successfully market milk it is necessary to cast a wider net and focus on the population at large, not only those people who are cognizant of their protein intake.


Perhaps I am being nostaglic, or a subjective (cow’s) milk lover and fan of the “got milk?” ad campaign, but I was certainly sad to see it go.  It is hard to remember more iconic marketing than seeing our idols with the milk mustache asking us a simple question.  I would hope that if MilkPEP does not continue to see positive changes in milk consumption they would consider a reboot of the “got milk?” promotions.  I believe they could benefit greatly by harnessing social media and celebrities to get people talking about and drinking milk again.  In the heyday of the campaign it seemed as though nearly every celebrity was willing to don the milk mustache and contribute to getting Americans to drink more milk and help the milk industry.  One could argue there are but a few more wholesome products a personality could represent than milk.

Bring back “got milk?”.  Down with “Milk Life”.  It has been two years and I would bet the average American would not be able to identify the new ad campaign.  Sometimes the perfect slogan, jingle, or motto comes along that should be everlasting; “got milk” is one of them.

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