Got Milk?

The logo of the "Got Milk?" campaign

Got Milk? (stylized as got milk?) is an American advertising campaign encouraging the consumption of cow's milk, which was created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993, and was later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers. It launched in 1993 with the now-famous "Aaron Burr" television commercial, directed by Michael Bay. The national campaign, run by MilkPEP (Milk Processor Education Program) added the "got milk?" logo to its "Milk Mustache" ads beginning in 1995. In January 2014, MilkPEP discontinued its Milk Mustache and got milk? advertisements,[1] and launched a new campaign with the tagline "Milk Life". The "got milk?" campaign continues in California and the "got milk?" trademark is being licensed to food and merchandise companies for U.S. and international sales. The campaign has been credited with greatly increasing milk sales in California,[2] although not necessarily nationwide.[3]

Got Milk? is one of the most famous commodity brands and influential campaigns in advertising history.


The phrase was created by the U.S. advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners. In an interview in Art & Copy, a 2009 documentary that focused on the origins of famous advertising slogans, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein said that the phrase almost didn't turn into an advertising campaign. According to the New York Times, people at Goodby, Silverstein "thought it was lazy, not to mention grammatically incorrect".[4]

The advertisements would typically feature people in various situations involving dry or sticky foods and treats such as cookies. The person then would find himself in an uncomfortable situation due to a full mouth and no milk to wash it down. At the end of the commercial the character would look sadly to the camera and boldly displayed would be the words, "Got Milk?"

The first Got Milk? advertisement aired nationwide on October 29, 1993, and featured a hapless history buff (played by Sean Whalen) receiving a call to answer a radio station's $10,000 trivia question (voiced by Rob Paulsen), "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" (referring to the Burr–Hamilton duel). The man's apartment is shown to be a private museum to the duel, packed with artifacts. He answers the question correctly, saying "Aaron Burr", but because his mouth is full of peanut butter and he has no milk to wash it down, his answer is unintelligible. The ad, directed by future Hollywood director Michael Bay, was at the top of the advertising industry's award circuit in 1994.[5] In 2002, the ad was named one of the ten best commercials of all time by a USA Today poll, and was run again nationwide that same year. It has since been featured in books on advertising and used in case studies.

The slogan "Got Milk?" was licensed to the National Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) in 1995 to use on their celebrity print ads, which, since then, have included celebrities from the fields of sports, media and entertainment, as well as fictional characters from TV, video games, and film such as The Simpsons, Batman, Mario, The Powerpuff Girls posing in print advertisements sporting a "milk mustache", employing the slogan, "Where's your mustache?" The milk mustache campaign promoting the Super Bowl has also been featured in USA Today, the Friday edition featured one player from each Super Bowl team to the player from the winning team in Monday's edition. It was not featured in 2014 as the advertising focus that year was on the "Protein Fight Club" campaign which promoted the importance of eating breakfast with milk and the "Refuel: Got Chocolate Milk" campaign.

Former California Governor Gray Davis expressed his dislike for one commercial and asked if there was a way to remove it from the air. It featured two children who refused to drink milk because their elderly next-door neighbor is energetic despite not drinking it. He is going to use his wheelbarrow when suddenly his arms snap off because, without his consumption of milk, his bones are weak and frail. The now-frightened children scream in terror and then start imbibing the fluid.[6]

From 1994 to 2005, ads appeared in California directed at Hispanic consumers, using the tagline "Familia, Amor y Leche" ("Family, Love and Milk"), created by Anita Santiago Advertising. In 2005, the Spanish language campaign was awarded to ad agency Grupo Gallegos, who changed the tagline to “toma leche” or “drink milk”.

According to the Got Milk? website, the campaign has over 90% awareness in the United States and the tagline has been licensed to dairy boards across the nation since 1995. Got Milk? is a powerful property and has been licensed on a range of consumer goods, including Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, baby and teen apparel, and kitchenware. The trademarked line has been widely parodied by groups championing a variety of causes. Many of these parodies use a lookalike rather than the actual persons used in the original Got Milk? advertisements. In 2005, the California Milk Processor Board created a "Got Ripped Off?" poster showcasing their top 100 favorite parodies of the slogan.[7]

The voice saying "Got Milk?" in most of the nationwide television commercials is that of veteran American voiceover actor Denny Delk. Other narrators have occasionally been used.

Some Got Milk? ads varied the slogan to say, "Got Chocolate Milk?"[8][9]

In February 2014, MilkPEP announced that it was discontinuing licensing the slogan for its advertising in favor of a new tagline: "Milk Life". The California Milk Processor Board, the creators and owners of the trademark, continue to use it.

As of 2016, the brand is used for a line of snack foods called Got Milk Snacks.

Related advertising

Beginning in 2011, an advertising campaign was launched primarily attacking the soy milk industry. The themes of these ads are comparable to the Got Milk? ads, but with such messages as "real milk isn't made from beans and nuts" or "real milk requires no shaking".

Parodies and references

The slogan is a snowclone, having appeared in numerous alternative versions on T-shirts and other advertisements. By 2007, the slogan had become an international icon, and the phrase has been parodied more than any other ad slogan.[10]


  1. Got Milk Dropped as National Milk Industry Changes Tactics
  2. Advertising Educational Foundation. "Got Milk? case history". Retrieved November 23, 2010.
  3. "Marketing campaign case studies: Got Milk?". April 21, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
  4. The Birth of ‘Just Do It’ and Other Magic Words', New York Times (August 20, 2009)
  5. Aaron Burr Got Milk? The Inspiration Room
  6. Raine, George (October 22, 2005). "'Got Milk?' ad strikes out with Major League Baseball: Commercial is parody of performance-enhancing substance use". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  7. "The top 100 spoofs of "Got milk?"". Adweek. June 28, 2005. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  8. "Fun got milk? commercial". YouTube. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  9. "Mountain Bike got milk? commercial". YouTube. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  10. Erica Werner (December 12, 2007). "Suit threatened over Got Milk? parody". USA Today. Associated Press.
  11. "End Of Road For GOTMILF License Plate". the smoking gun. July 21, 2004. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  12. Emily Sweeney (February 26, 2004). "Getting it on their chests". The Boston Globe.
  13. "Boston magazine cover". July 2004.

Further reading

External links

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