Monday, April 9, 2012

Got (fill in the blank)?

A week ago tonight, I trudged out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, morose after my team--the Kansas Jayhawks--lost in the national title game to Kentucky.  And, it was raining thus making the prospect of a 20-block walk back to the hotel all that more depressing.

As we walked a block or so away from the dome, a street vendor hawked "Got Championships" t-shirts in honor of Kentucky's eighth NCAA basketball championship.  I had to chuckle as I thought of Rich Silverstein and Jeff Goodby, founding partners of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and their collaboration so long ago on the line "Got Milk?" which is now the stuff of rogue merchandise being sold after college basketball's biggest event.

The "Got Milk?" campaign, for the California Milk Processor Board, was created in 1993.  The now lauded commercial "Aaron Burr" launched the campaign and the rest, as they say, is history--it's recognized as one of the most famous commodity brand campaigns in U.S. history.  The opening television spot featured a history buff who received a call to answer a radio station's $10,000 trivia question, "Who shot Alexander Hamilton in the famous duel?"  The commercial reveals that the man's apartment is a private museum to the duel, packed with artifacts and memorabilia.  Our history buff answers the question correctly but his words are unintelligible because his mouth is full of peanut butter.  Alas, he has no milk to wash it down.

That ad, later voted one of the ten best commercials of all time by USA Today, kicked off a campaign which is still going.  And, in the process, the campaign has woven its way into popular culture.  Who of us hasn't seen a product, of some kind, which has knocked off the words "Got Milk?" with some other "Got (fill in the blank)?"

To its credit, the California Milk Processor Board has avoided going after the copycats by realizing the mileage they are receiving from others who are using a knock-off of their campaign line.  However, in 2007, the Board did go after PETA for its use of the line in its anti-dairy campaign.  Since its beginnings in 1993, the campaign line is--unofficially--the most parodied ad slogan ever.

"Got Championships?"  No...but the Milk Board has got success due to this impressive, long-running work.

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