To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a time when I was unaware of the existence of milk. Though, when it’s your first source of sustenance in the real world, that’s an easy victory for the Milk Awareness brigade. Of course, the battle doesn’t end once everyone learns that cows produce it, or that you can almost certainly find it in the refrigerator (thanks, Mom!), and that it goes great on cereal. Cue the California Milk Processor Board and agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (GS&P). Together, the two have worked to make this universally-known commodity your drink of choice by asking the question: Got Milk?
The original Got Milk? TV spot (watch below) debuted in October 1993 and was an instant hit, leading a string successful ads that went national in 1995. Suddenly, everyone knew the answer to another question: Who shot Alexander Hamilton? Unfortunately for our momentarily-mush-mouthed protagonist, he couldn’t spit out, “Aaron Burr!” explicitly enough. Appreciation through milk deprivation was off to a smashing start. Going up against emerging beverage competitors like the Snapple Lady, bottled water and other sweetened drinks, California milk sales increased in 1994 after several years of decline during the national “Does a Body Good” run.
Udderly Mammoth. Terrible pun aside, Got Milk? has become legendary among ad copy. The hilarity, clever writing and feelings of empathy continued with several more commercials following, perhaps, Michael Bay’s finest work in Aaron Burr (yeah, that Michael Bay directed it). Playing off the idea that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” GS&P showed us the impact of not having enough of the good stuff by pairing it with complimentary foods like peanut butter, cake and cookies. Sorry health angle, this time the inability to speak trumps a calcium deficiency. Today, the campaign continues with three websites integrating the Got Milk? healthy lifestyle, and print ads featuring celebrities sporting the famous milk mustache.
For almost two decades, “Got Milk?” has been enjoying a lifespan and recognition rivaled by the likes of “Just Do It,” “Priceless,” and “Have it Your Way.” It has survived a strategic shift back to promoting a healthy body, and still remains relevant. Now ponder this conundrum, one not as easily solved as our subject; could this gem of a motto ever be replaced? Well, when you’ve brought out the best in the guy responsible for Transformers 2, I’d say you’ve got tenure.