Two Thoughts About "Got Milk?"

At the end of Jon Steel's Truth, Lies & Advertising, he revisited the infamous "got milk?" campaign that his old firm developed for the California Milk Processor Board. You remember that first TV commercial, right?

Guy is making a peanut butter sandwich and listening to radio contest. Suddenly, the phone rings. "For $50,000...Who shot Alexander Hamilton?"

"Awwwwhn Boooh...Ayywin Brrrgh." He searches frantically for milk, but finds none and doesn't win the money.

The strategy behind this campaign is fascinating, but two points in particular really struck me. First, the client wanted people to buy more milk, so Steel had to decide whether to focus on attracting new consumers or getting existing consumers to buy more. He opted for the latter. 

Second, during the planning process, Steel and his team zeroed in on the idea of "___ and milk." That is, they looked at milk being a necessary part of many of our favorite culinary combinations, like cereal, brownies, cookies, and PB&Js. However, they went a step further. It wasn't enough to remind consumers that they like milk with a lot of things. Rather, they found that food was a trigger—give consumers food (that, of course, is usually paired with milk) and then make milk unavailable. Desperation! Tragedy! 

What's the best way to avoid similar (albeit, less absurd than the Aaron Burr commercial) situations? Buy more milk so we never run out. It worked.

These two points made me ponder their application outside of milk advertising. Take networking, for example. Where do we concentrate our efforts: on finding new leads and developing new relationships, or cultivating existing ones to get more from them? Once we choose a focus, how do we get what we want: by directly stating the reason, or using a more strategic suggestion?


Corey BennettJon Steel