Here's What's Different About The New Got Milk Ads

The milk industry wants to know, yet again, if you "Got Milk?" The famous ad campaign is back after it was laid to rest in 2014. Six years is a long time in popular culture, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the new round of "Got Milk" ads really looks nothing like the old. The original campaign was launched all the way back in 1993 with the Michael Bay-directed "Who shot Alexander Hamilton?" TV commercial and evolved into the posters of everyone from Dennis Rodman to Bill Clinton sporting milk mustaches.

This time around, the ads are featured on the Milk Processor Education Program's own YouTube channel, and they look a lot like TikTok. The celebrity presence is more low-key. NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster appears for a couple seconds in the latest YouTube ad, casually tossing a cookie into a glass of milk. Olympic gold-medal swimmer Katie Ledecky posted an advertisement to her personal TikTok account where she swims the length of a pool with a glass of chocolate milk on her head. The post aims to go viral with the #gotmilkchallenge hashtag: "What can you do without spilling a drop?"

'Got Milk' was a popular ad campaign that didn't work

On one level, the original "Got Milk?" campaign was a huge success. Fast Company reported that at the time, 80 percent of U.S. consumers ran across that two-word question on any given day. Maybe that's why the milk people are reviving the ad now, bringing back something comfortable and familiar at a time when consumers, apparently, need exactly that. People have been buying more snack foods during the COVID-19 pandemic. They've also been buying more milk, according to Axios, which reverses a decades-long trend of declining milk sales.

The problem is, as much as people enjoyed "Got Milk?" the ad campaign did nothing to halt the steady decline of U.S. milk consumption. The cola wars, fought on the commercial airwaves starting in the 1970s, led consumers to pick either Coke or Pepsi over milk (via Huffington Post). Things have gotten so bad for milk that Borden Dairy and Dean Foods, which is America's largest milk producer, both filed for bankruptcy (via The Guardian).

It's hard to say whether a slogan that didn't work before is going to save the American dairy industry now. Here's some free advice: Maybe the milk marketers need to set up a milk vs. Pepsi challenge.