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Got Milk Case Study

Got Milk Case Study

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Published by: bitsymetcalf on Mar 10, 2009
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got milk?
By Douglas B. Holt, L'Oreal Professor of Marketing, University of Oxford
 
What could you say about milk? It was white and came in gallons. People felt they knew all there was to know about it, so it was hard to find a strategic  platform.- Jeff Manning
 In June 1993, Jeff Manning, Executive Director, was hired by the
California Milk Processor Board
 (CMPB) to revive sagging milk consumption in California. A month later, he hired San Francisco adagency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to create a new ad campaign for milk. "We weren't going toturn around a 15-year decline in per capita in one year, but we did believe that at least for certainportions of the population, we could flatten it out and start to move it up," said Manning. FollowingManning's lead, Jeff Goodby, the agency's co-founder and chief creative, had worked with a team of planners and creatives at his agency to create got milk?, a campaign that became one of thedecade's most popular and critically-acclaimed ad campaigns. (1)
CMPB: Marketing Milk as a Commodity
 Concerned with long-term declining milk sales, California's largest milk processors voted to fund amarketing board that would be charged with creating advertising dedicated to selling milk. Theprocessors agreed to finance the California Milk Processor Board (2) by contributing three cents forevery gallon of milk they processed. This assessment allowed for a $23 million/year marketingbudget. On a per-capita basis (California's population was roughly 20% of the US), this budgetapproximated those of the largest national auto, beer, finance, and pharmaceutical brands. Theprocessors agreed that they would assess the new board's effectiveness every three years, As theirfirst act, the board had hired Manning and he reported to CMPB's board of nine representatives.Prior to the CMPB's formation, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), had for many yearsproduced the "Milk Does a Body Good" ad campaign. The campaign echoed the government'snutrition program, which encouraged people to drink a few glasses of milk each day to maintaintheir health. As Manning took over, consumers evidently still believed that milk was nutritious."Ninety-three or -four percent of the people already said milk was good for you," Manning recalled."And 90% said it had calcium, and a fair percentage said that calcium helped prevent osteoporosis.The problem was that the old ads didn't change consumers' behavior." Consumers-and especiallykids and teens-still considered milk to be as boring as a beverage could possibly be. Since peoplethought milk was good for them but sales volume was falling anyway, Manning felt that his firstdecision was handed to him: he would abandon the nutrition theme.
Shifts in Beverage Consumption
Perceptions of MilkHistorically, dairy advertising and public relations efforts, along with government programs, hadhelped to build the widely held belief that drinking milk was the key to good health, particularly forchildren. Drinking milk linked the consumer to the dairy farms out in the rural countryside, a spaceimplied to be healthier, both morally and hygienically. Later, this "wholesome" theme was expanded
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to include the notion that milk was nutritious.Beginning in earnest after World War II, the US government, schools, and doctors had all promotedmilk as a nutritious drink, a necessary component of a healthy diet, especially for children. Onceeach day, school administrators had lined up children in front of stainless steel milk dispensers andgave them each a paper cup of cool, fresh milk. The US Department of Agriculture hadrecommended nutritional requirements which divided the human diet into four "food groups"- meats& fish, fruits & vegetables, cereals & grains, and dairy products. Teachers included theserecommendations into their lessons about health and nutrition. Health care professionals like schoolnurses and pediatricians taught mothers that it was important to drink four glasses of milk each day.By the 1950s, milk had assumed an important role in what people thought was a normal, nutritiouslifestyle. In the United States then, milk had been a family staple.On the contrary, people thought of soft drinks as recreational leisure products. Sodas, then, were ina great position to represent many of the things that milk did not. Beginning with Pepsi in the1960s-and then followed by virtually every other soda-beverage makers began to associate theirsweet carbonated drinks with youthful lifestyles. By the 1970s, soda makers' aggressive marketingwas helping to erode milk's place in consumers' diets, stealing "share of stomach." People weredrinking less milk, substituting soft drinks, even when they were at home.Flavor and Packaging InnovationMarketers were also aggressively reconfiguring the way beverages were packaged. Drinks of allvarieties came in containers that numbered hundreds of shapes and even more colors. New, easy-open containers were resealable so that people could drink from them with little effort while they didother things, like drive cars, ride bicycles, and use exercise machines. Unlike milk's messycardboard box, its competing beverages traveled well.Manning couldn't control how milk was packaged and he knew that it was still sold in monotonouscardboard boxes or translucent plastic jugs. And milk's Spartan label, typically printed in a singlecolor, likely featured only nutritional information and an expiration date, hardly enticing drawscompared to the packaging of the new, competitive beverages. On the variety front, processors hadexperimented with an innovation or two, but to Manning, lactose-free milk offered littleencouragement: "Milk was white and came in gallons."Competitors' SymbolismFinally, Manning had to face milk's seemingly most intractable hurdle. "Milk was boring," he said.Compared to the proliferation of brightly colored beverages in myriad, imaginative packages, milkhad an image problem. Milk was still associated with domesticity and it was apparent to him thatmost consumers were no longer excited by the tamed life.If milk had represented a domesticity that had fallen out of style, many of its new competitors hadaccrued altogether different meanings-like youthful rebellion, eclectic individuality, and streetsmartfashion. The most successful new brands each used advertising to help create this symbolism. In the1990s, Gatorade, Snapple, Mountain Dew, and Sprite led the way.
Snapple
. With its eclectic range of "100% Natural" teas and juice-drinks, Snapple was a hugesuccess. While consumers loved these beverages for their innovative flavors, it was their quirkyadvertising and promotions that attracted many drinkers. Snapple presented itself as the anti-corporate beverage company. For instance, they aired poorly produced ads starring Ivan Lendlmispronouncing the drink and a whole series of ads that featured their no-nonsense customerservice manager, "Wendy," answering customers' letters. They also hired Rush Limbaugh andHoward Stern, both of whom enjoyed anti-authority reputations, to hawk the drink.
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Mountain Dew
. Mountain Dew sales rocketed behind the success of the "Do the Dew" advertisingcampaign. The ads featured four irreverent "slacker" guys who thrived on ultra-dangerous stunts.The ads claimed, with tongue in cheek, that Mountain Dew was even more potent and daring thanthese risky feats. The ads often parodied popular culture and incorporated energetic rock music.
Gatorade
. Originally formulated to combat dehydration problems for the University of Floridafootball team, Gatorade became the "functional" beverage of choice. The brand was advertised usingMichael Jordan ("Be Like Mike") and purported to show how Gatorade helped the basketballsuperstar to achieve a high level of performance. By the early 1990s, the drink had evolved from anathlete's isotonic to a popular everyday drink.
Sprite
. Behind their "Obey Your Thirst" campaign, Sprite sales increased steadily from 1993 to1998. The ads were especially popular with young consumers and told drinkers not to pay attentionto conventional marketing pleas. Instead, consumers were supposed to adopt Sprite's playfulcynicism, which often featured leading rap artists and professional basketball players which,together, wove Sprite into hip-hop culture popular amongst America's urban metro youth.
The got milk? Campaign
 Although milk sales were declining, Manning's research showed that 70% of Californians claimed todrink milk frequently. One rule of thumb in fast-moving packaged goods is that it's easier to getcurrent customers to consume more than it is to convert new users. Based on this logic, Manningand Goodby quickly agreed that their best hope of reviving sales was to prod this 70% to increasetheir consumption. Recalling a strategy that his Ketchum co-worker had explored a few yearsearlier, Manning suggested that people who drank milk tended to think of it as an accompaniment tocertain sweet and sticky foods that they loved. To explain this "blank-and-milk" notion, Manning toldGoodby that many people who drank milk did so with brownies, cookies, or peanut buttersandwiches. Perhaps, Manning suggested, the key for the new campaign could be found in this food-beverage connection.Goodby's team fielded qualitative research and learned that many consumers indeed linked milkwith sweet, sticky snacks. Pushing further, the researchers flipped around the question: how dopeople feel when they're eating something that demanded milk to wash it down, but don't have milkin the house? Focus group respondents placed in this situation were upset, they felt deprived. Theywere able to convey viscerally the feeling of having a brownie or cookie remnants stuck in theirthroat, calling out for a gulp of milk to cleanse the palette.Goodby and his team used this consumer insight as the spark for what came to be called thedeprivation strategy: rather than selling milk as a complement to certain foods, instead the strategybecame to remind milk drinkers of the anxiety and disappointment that came when milk wasn'tavailable at crucial moments. Working to distill this milk-deprived emotional state into a phrase thateveryone might instantly understand, Goodby coined the campaign's well-known grammatically-challenged tagline, "got milk?"The agency created a few print ads which showed snacks like chocolate cupcakes and cookies, eachwith a bite taken out of them and the text, "got milk?" Manning thought that they perfectlyexpressed the way people felt about a moment when they craved milk and encouraged Goodby topursue the "milk deprivation strategy" for television ads.Manning 's research showed that 88% of milk was consumed in the home. He and Goodby agreedthat their milk deprivation ads would incorporate this reality. The ads would show people runningout of milk when they needed it most, in their homes. "The whole campaign was based onsomebody sitting at home thirty feet from the fridge with the TV on," said Manning. "We wantedthem to feel the pain."
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