Still on a post-Oscars, Samsung-mega-selfie/poignant-botched-surgery/did-that-thing-on-Travolta’s-head-perhaps-invade-his-brain bender? Then take a look at this new milk commercial. With its “Milk Life” tagline, and corny vignettes involving perversely spurting bodily fluids, it is so head-scratchingly bad, it’ll sober you right up -- or make you lose your faith in the entire human race.
But I don’t really blame the new agency. (Sorry, Lowe Campbell Ewald.) After all, the discarded campaign (the milk mustache) also had quasi-porn-film embarrassment possibilities. But with the help of celebrities eager and willing to lease out their virginal above-the-lip real estate, it worked for many years.
Let me just clear up one thing: “Got Milk?” was created in 1993 by Jeff Goodby, at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners (where I once worked) for the California Milk Processors’ Board.
The milk mustache print ads were created by a different agency entirely, which then adapted “Got Milk?” as the tag line. This national group also ran Goodby’s award-winning TV work for a few years. (Like the spot featuring the obnoxious cell-phone user who ends up in hell with a fridge full of chocolate-chip cookies and no milk. The early Goodby work connected because it shows how much the absence of milk -- like when you have peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth, as in the Aaron Burr spot from 1994 -- makes you crave it.)
And “Got Milk?” will continue to run in California via the Goodby campaign.
So it was an incorrect oversimplification that had media stories seizing on the new campaign as a goodbye to “Got Milk” (while showing the Burr spot) and hello to “Milk Life.” (Which for the young’uns, suggests “Thug Life” and for the oldsters evokes “MILF” Life.)
Nope, this is the output of a different group of processors, entirely, under the aegis of the Milk Processor Education Program. (MilkPep) And in attempting to engineer a major switch-up, the PEP people probably insisted on having the new work feature an, um, explosive, new product demo.
And that edict somehow got translated into the seemingly magical idea of making clearish-white fluid fly all over the screen. (Gallons of it!) And once no expense was spared in creating that alchemical effect, I suspect it became a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, pumped-out-fluids edition.
Yup, perhaps the Milk Processor’s Education board had already invested so much, and was so taken with this compellingly produced digital “process,” that no one at the endless meetings around the conference table had the nerve to stand up and say, “Um, do we think that there’s a potential problem in that it looks like semen?”
Of course not! Instead, it was more like “Wow, watch that milk go! It’s super-charged!” Followed no doubt by a palm-swatting round of high-fives.
Call it the mystifying case of the Immaculate Ejaculata.
Obviously, selling a dairy drink’s protein- and energy-boosting properties by featuring flying liquid emissions does not one body good.
The story is that milk consumption is down for all the expected reasons (the rising popularity of other choices, including almond and soy milk; the decline of cereal-eating for breakfast; health worries about chemical additives, watered-down taste, the advent of veganism, etc.)
But the horror does not come from the use of the fluids alone. It’s the dated, bogus scenarios attached to the soaring liquids that majorly compound the fail.
Ostensibly, this “8 milligrams of protein” is a message for the morning, to launch your day with muscle-building energy. So tell me, which obviously groovy and happening teen-girl garage band practices first thing in the morning? (And on the driveway?) Not to mention that they accompany all that serious guitar-slamming with the hotel-room-destroying properties of milk, which flies off their flicking fingers. How all this flying stuff doesn’t get anything wet is also a mystery.
The spot opens with a mom chasing her son, both powered by propellers of milk on their backs. (Huh?) The next two shots are even worse: first, a dog walker with a parachute of milk exploding out of her ass (pardon me.) And then we achieve Poignancy Central, with a clip of the dad and son playing basketball on the driveway. As the kid goes for a lay-up, an ocean of white stuff pours out of his pants.
It’s back to the drawing board, I’m afraid. Milk is a female human fluid, and also reminds us visually of a male human fluid. And the less you "Milk life" and refer to how that happens, the better.