This question graced a local billboard a few years ago, another in a long line of imitators of a brilliant campaign that spawned them.
You remember Got Milk?
That slogan and the advertising campaign built around it were created in 1993 by Goodby Silverstein and Partners for their client, the California Milk Processor Board, which owned and licensed those famous two words to other national dairy boards and various merchandisers and manufacturers. (The campaign was officially jettisoned a couple years ago and replaced with “Milk Life.” Meh.)
The first “Got Milk?” commercial on TV aired October 29, 1993:
Funny, to be sure. Did you happen to notice the central role played by radio in the TV spot? Not surprisingly, GS&P created some great theater-of-mind radio spots for the campaign. Here are a couple of them. See if you can avoid forming pictures in your mind as you listen.
In the annals of American advertising, no slogan has attracted so many imitators as this one. Over the past 23 years we’ve all seen or heard local advertisers’ attempts to co-opt the “Got Milk?” slogan for their own businesses. Just for fun, how many do you remember?
That’s because all the rip-offs simply reminded us of…milk. And that’s OK with the Got Milk? people. According to an article in AdWeek:
Jeff Manning of the California Milk Processor Board likes to use the phrase “stupid rip-offs” to describe the spoofs. But he’s known from the beginning that the parodies only add to the campaign’s momentum. “We love them,” Manning says. “They actually help us sell milk. Consumers hear ‘Got muscle?’ or ‘Got mongoose?’ and say, ‘What a stupid rip-off of ‘Got milk?’ ”
To underscore the point, they printed a poster containing the top-100 ripoffs. There’s even a website devoted to collecting examples from around the world. Appropriately enough, it’s called MilkingGotMilk.com.
One day, driving up to Spokane, I passed a Prius sporting a bumper sticker that read: “Got Yoga?” and wondered whether the folks that printed it gave it more than a few seconds of thought. What it communicates, at least on a subconscious level, is that the yoga advertiser’s marketing folks aren’t trying very hard.
If you’re in business, you have a story that belongs to you and no one else. Why not tell that story, your story, instead of borrowing someone else’s and trying make it fit you? After all, whatever it is you’re selling, I’m betting it’s not milk.
Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He became sales manager for the Pullman Radio Group in 1979 and served in that position until 2006. He continues to serve clients in the region as the stations’ senior account executive. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales, providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at PalousePics.com.