Got Ripped Off?
Pamela Accetta Smith
(847) 205-5660 ext. 4069
Milk, you’ve come a long way baby. And thanks in part to the famed “got milk?” advertising campaign, the little white beverage has become a force to be reckoned with. Milk has long struggled with the “commodity identity,” as I like to call it, and this campaign has put the once-modest product back on the map — making formulators crazy with invention — transforming it into a “got-to-have-it” beverage.
In 1993, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) introduced the well-known and greatly imitated tagline, “got milk?” But this phrase that has helped the dairy industry sell thousands of gallons of milk in California has been ripped off and changed to market countless other products and ideas — like “got beer?”, “got blood?” and “got teeth?” — which has helped the industry sell even more milk due to the instant identification with the legendary campaign, proving further that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This expression has actually become a part of the American vernacular. Now, that’s marketing genius.
So what do “got fleas?”, “got fish?” and “got Freud?” all have in common? They’re all rip-offs of the iconic “got milk?” campaign. These catchy little imitations have all made it on CMPB’s  top 100 “got ripped off?” list. And they’re gaining recognition from an unlikely place, the “got milk?” creators themselves.
“We love them,” says Jeff Manning, executive director of CMPB. “They actually help us sell milk. Consumers hear ‘got muscle?’ or ‘got mongoose?’ and say, ‘What a stupid rip-off of got milk?’”
The “got milk?” folks say they started seeing rip-offs soon after the campaign hit the streets and still get new ones every week.
“People copy ‘got milk?’ because it’s short, simple and easy to remember,” says Manning. “No other campaign has become so much a part of American vernacular. ‘Got milk?’ dramatizes the agony of running out of milk. Somehow running out of catnip doesn’t have the same impact.”
CMAB was established in 1993 to make milk more competitive and increase milk consumption in California. Awareness of the phrase “got milk?” is reported over 90 percent nationally and it is considered one of the most influential and successful campaigns in history. “Got milk?” is a federally registered trademark that has been licensed by national dairy boards since 1995.
The dairy industry spends $150 million annually to support “got milk?” including use on Milk Mustache ads. In addition, the “brand” has become a hot property with more than 100 product licensees. The CMPB is funded by all California milk processors and administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
To view the Top 100 “got ripped off?” list, visit
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