Our Work – Strategic Solutions

The “got milk?” campaign

The Strategic Challenge

For more than 20 years, per capita fluid milk sales in the United States had been steadily falling. By the 1990’s, the negative trend appeared to be accelerating. In 1998, the new high profile and very popular “got milk?” and “milk mustache” campaigns were supported with big budgets, and won many creative awards, but milk consumption in the U.S. continued to fall across every consumer segment.

There were many factors contributing to the declines, including:

The proliferation of carbonated soft drinks – at much lower price points – and always close by.

Bottled Water

Sports Drinks

Boring Old Fashioned, and/or unappetizing milk cartons.

Unprecedented changes in the daily life and structure of the average American family:

More dual-income/working couples;

Hectic, “on the go” daily routines;

Fewer traditional family meals;

The rapidly changing U.S. ethnic population; many Asian and Hispanic families have no “built-in” tradition of drinking milk.

Milk sales were promoted by two separated organizations, with two separate big budget ad campaigns.
But the campaigns focused on the same, homogeneous, very traditional targets, using very traditional selection criteria.

The “got milk?” campaign

old milk cartons
hectic schedules
ethnic diversity
    • Dairy farmer funded
    • $70MM TV budget with a very broad, all-family, consumer target
    • “Deprivation” strategy – Only milk will do when…

The “milk mustache?” campaign

    • Milk processor funded
    • $110MM budget focused on print and PR
    • Adult targets
    • “Health” messages with adult “celebrity” milk mustaches

  • These approaches had resulted in:
    Creative, award-winning advertising
    • But, declining per capita consumption, across every demographic segment, for over 20 years.

The Solution

Project: No Sacred Cows

  • Consumer Segmentation Study identifying Kids and Teens as the key target segments.
  • One unified $180MM “got milk?” campaign
  • New messages and media selections
    • Kid and Teen TV
    • Kid and Teen Print
  • Industry Task forces on developing new packaging and sing serve/portable milk products.
  • Emphasis on chocolate and other flavored milks (“got chocolate milk” T-shirt image)


  • Immediate leveling off of the rate of decline in 1998
  • Total milk sales grew nearly 1% in 1999 despite milk prices rising at 4x the rate of inflation
  • Flavored milk sales up 8% in 1998, and 6% in 1999.
  • Two years later, in 2000: Kids per capita milk consumption +11%, Teens +3%.