Got Controversy?

November 1, 2005
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Got Controversy?
Pamela Accetta Smith
(847) 405-4069
One of the most successful advertising campaigns gets controversial? What? The latest “got milk?” advertisements spoof Major League Baseball’s steroid abuse scandal. Funny? Well, not everyone thinks so.
The new ad campaign, as described by the California Milk Processor Board (CMAB), focuses on how the use of an often-ignored but powerful substance to boost athletic performance is reaching beyond professional locker rooms and into the sports bags of even our nation’s youngest little leaguers. The substance — a refrigerated white liquid that enhances bone strength and promotes muscle recovery — is literally everywhere. So rampant in use, it has now become the focus of a brand new series of hard hitting reality-based TV commercials produced by the creators of the famous “got milk?” advertising campaign.
The five 30-second spots are spoofs of a “powerful substance with extensive performance-enhancing properties,” which in this case are things like calcium, protein and vitamin D.
Taking a humorous approach to an issue that has plagued professional sports for years, the new commercials — titled “Caught,” “Batting Practice,” “Tabloid,” “Never Poured” and “Manager” — broke on television airwaves October 11 during the opening of the 2005 post-season playoffs. “Caught” opens with a sports anchor delivering the news of a slugger being pulled from the game after testing positive for a new performance enhancing substance. Cut to locker room frenzy: coaches and managers rummaging through a player’s locker to find the performance enhancement culprit — a half-gallon of milk. “Everyone knew he was pouring,” says a teammate. The accused youngster tries to defend his actions, citing the broad availability and usage of the substance, but to no avail. The spot closes with the ubiquitous “got milk?” tagline.
Officials with Major League Baseball, however, say there’s nothing funny about steroid abuse, and criticized the spots’ making light of something that’s harmful to children as well as adults.
Developed by CMPB’s longtime advertising agency, San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the commercials — the first to tout milk as a “super food” with all of its health-promoting benefits — rely on the backhanded humor of major league athletes taking substances to improve their performance. All five of the new spots can be viewed online at
On the “got milk?” Web site, milk is hyped as not only a calcium source, but a nutritional powerhouse with additional performance enhancing properties like protein and vitamin D. The Web site goes on to say that’s why top athletes drink four to five 8-ounce glasses of milk daily. Research shows that milk supports muscle protein accretion, as well as being an excellent choice for a long lasting muscle-protecting protein. Plus, milk contains whey — the most common form of protein found in bodybuilding supplements. Anyone who cares about being active and keeping fit should drink milk, the site says.
Some may even find that controversial.
But now in its 12th year, “got milk?” has helped sell millions of gallons of milk and has become an American icon. The dairy industry spends $150 million annually to support the campaign, including for use on Milk Mustache ads.
Offended or not, controversial or not, “got milk?” is one hot commodity.  

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