Hey Milk! Got Ad?

December 5, 2007 at 10:07 pm Leave a comment

Sometimes ads just make me mad. It’s an occupational hazard I suppose. When you work in marketing and you see bad marketing, it just gets to you.

Normally I would just get over it. The problem is that there’s a new billboard from the California Milk Advisory Board that I see every day driving home on 101. Today the print ad version covered the back of the Sports section in the Merc. So I need to vent.

The new ad is part of their “Real California Milk” campaign. The San Francisco Chronicle has the whole story, but it’s basically an attempt to block imports of “out of state milk.”

My problem with the ad is in the execution, not the idea of California branding. Here’s what the billboard copy says: “Make Sure it’s Certified Local.” That’s it. Not that it’s fresher. Not that California has higher standards. Basically that California milk producers are protectionist. Boy, that really makes me want to go out and buy California milk. And 20%? Even a consumer inclined to buy local would find that a low number.

The thing is, why even mention this 20% bit? Why not just start promoting fresh California milk? And where is this rogue milk coming from, anyway? Oregon? I have no idea, but I’d think the folks up in Eureka and Redding would find that preferable. It’s a head scratcher that this campaign came from the same people who brought us the Real California Cheese campaign (which I’m okay with) and the Happy Cows campaign (which I found amusing, if a bit disingenuous).

Also, from a strategy standpoint, Buy Local (think Starbucks vs. the local coffee shop) and Buy American (think Ford/GM/Chrysler vs. Honda/Nissan/Toyota) campaigns don’t have a history of success in California.

The Chronicle story mentions that the Board found 7 out of 10 people prefer to purchase locally produced milk. I am always suspicious of these types of findings from market research. So much of it depends on how you ask the question. I’m sure most people would by default say they would prefer local milk, absent any knowledge of potential advantages from out of state milk. But if milk from Oregon or Wisconsin were cheaper, had higher standards, or came from cows who were treated more humanely , I think most consumers would be interested.

And, of course, it’s just plain sad when compared to one of the greatest ad campaigns ever, Got Milk? It was created by the California Milk Processor Board (no idea about the relationship between the “Advisors” and “Processors”) and has an astounding 90% awareness rating. And I even learned a bit of history from the first one (Quick: Who shot Alexander Hamilton?). Check out the fascinating Wikipedia entry.

I buy a lot of milk (two small kids), but I just don’t get this new campaign. The thinking behind it seems, at best, calcified…

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Entry filed under: Advertising, Bad Ad. Tags: , .

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