The ‘Got Milk?’ ads are back but they’re not like the ones you remember

Aug 3, 2020, 7:39 AM | Updated: 7:39 am
The TV and digital ads showcase user-generated social media videos of everyday people — and stars...
The TV and digital ads showcase user-generated social media videos of everyday people — and stars like US Olympian Katie Ledecky — using milk in creative ways, she said. Credit: Milk Processor Education Program

(CNN) — One of the most iconic questions in advertising history is back.

The milk industry is resurrecting its “Got Milk?” slogan that branded a popular ad campaign from 1993 to 2014. The idea, more or less, was to make milk sexy by putting goofy white mustaches on celebrities like Britney Spears, Dennis Rodman, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and even Kermit the Frog.

But this time around, most of the stars are TikTok-ers and YouTubers, and the mustaches have been left in the past.

The new “Got Milk?” campaign, which launches Monday, is for the “social-first generation,” said Yin Woon Rani, chief executive of the Milk Processor Education Program, in an interview with CNN Business. MilkPEP is the dairy industry’s marketing arm.

The TV and digital ads showcase user-generated social media videos of everyday people — and stars like US Olympian Katie Ledecky — using milk in creative ways, she said.

The impetus for the “Got Milk?” revival was a resurgence of dairy milk sales amid the pandemic, Rani said.

“When things got tough, we saw Americans literally went out and got milk,” she said. “And it wasn’t just they were drinking more of it. They were finding fun and surprising ways to use it.”

A key leg of the campaign is a TikTok challenge from swimmer Ledecky, whose #GotMilkChallenge featured her balancing a glass of chocolate milk on her head while swimming the length of an Olympic-sized pool.

“I grew up with the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign, and so I really love that they’re bringing it forward to a new generation of kids,” Ledecky said in an interview with CNN Business.

Milk remains a staple in 94% of American households, according to MilkPEP. But consumption has been on a downward trend in recent years. Sales of milk, which run north of $10.5 billion per year have been down about 2% to 2.5% annually, said Doug Adams, president of Prime Consulting Group, which works with MilkPEP.

Adams attributed the declines to broader shifts in Americans’ eating behaviors. When people started to eat more meals away from home, they drank less milk, he said.

But lockdowns during the pandemic turned sales around. For the 20-week period that ended on July 18, sales of cow’s milk totaled $4.5 billion, an increase of 11.7% from the comparable period last year, according to Nielsen data.

Consumers also bought more milk alternatives, notably trendy oat milk, which saw sales increase 250% to $132.4 million for the 20-week period ending on July 18.

While the plant-based alt-milks have garnered attention and some hefty investment money, the dairy industry is unfazed. MilkPEP’s Rani said the decision to bring back “Got Milk?” was in response to the surge in dairy milk sales, not the rise of potential competitors.

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The ‘Got Milk?’ ads are back but they’re not like the ones you remember