Leave it to a dairy farmer to take the bull by the horns and steer milk advertising in a new direction.

Dairy farmer Mike McCloskey introduced Minnesotans to an ultra-filtered high-protein milk in February. The product, called fairlife, is distributed by Kemps, a powerhouse dairy processor owned by Dairy Farmers of America.

Radio ads were playing when I was in the Twin Cities last month and the product was in the dairy case of one Lunds grocery store I visited in St. Paul.

You won’t see any milk moustaches in the advertisements for fairlife. Rather, the print ads show women “dressed” in milk, the hemlines flaring northward, à la the classic Marilyn Monroe pose in “The Seven Year Itch.” Under the headline (see an example in the slide show, above), fairlife touts its high protein and calcium content (each 50% more than conventionally processed milk).

Protein is also the theme in the new campaign from Milk Processor Education Program. At the January Dairy Forum, the Washington, D.C., group previewed its national integrated marketing campaign called “Milk Life” (see ad). As MilkPEP interim CEO Julie Kadison writes exclusively for us this month (see page 12):

“With stunning images of milk drinkers getting a ‘boost’ from milk while doing everyday activities, the creative emphasizes how drinking milk allows you to live your upmost potential. The campaign concept, Milk Life, has a powerful dual meaning.  On one hand, Milk Life is an inspirational call to arms, encouraging people to wring every last drop out of every single moment.  On the other hand, Milk Life is a mode of living at your fullest potential – a way of living where milk helps power you to stay at your best.”

She also writes that “we need to communicate milk’s high-quality protein content in a compelling way that makes milk the hero and protein the superpower.”

The dairy industry as a whole is taking up the protein banner. Dieticians say Americans do not get enough protein in their meals. Milk (along with yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese) is a convenient, affordable and tasty delivery system for protein.

 Admittedly, the fairlife ads are attention-getting, but did the company need to play the “sex sells” card? Sometimes the direct approach is best. I have yet to tire of Umpqua Dairy’s simple statement: “Milk. Yeah, it’s that good!”