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'Got Milk?' E-Commerce Billboard Campaign Launched

The California Milk Processor Board has launched a 'got milk?' campaign on billboards and bus shelters throughout the state to drive traffic to its recently launched e-commerce Web site at www.gotmilk.com, putting the famous awareness-building effort in the direct response arena for the first time.

The stark ads for the campaign, which are timed to sell 'got milk?' merchandise for the holiday shopping season, are reversed white type on a black background and say simply “Where cows and cyberspace collide. www.gotmilk.com.”

“This gives us a chance to market our stuff to the world without having to go through licensees, retail grocery stores and department stores,” said Jeff Manning, executive director of Berkeley, CA-based CMPB. The goal for the campaign, said Manning, “is simply to get as many people as possible to run around with 'got milk?' stuff on. If we break even I'll be very happy.” Manning estimated the CMPB paid between $40,000 and $50,000 to create the site — a small sum compared to the $22 million per year the CMPB spends on its awareness campaign.

“We have an affectionate phrase: If you haven't seen 'got milk?,' you're brain dead in the wine cellar,” said Manning. The billboards will be up until early 1999, and then probably relaunched sometime in spring after an evaluation.

The campaign is concentrated in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego. The CMPB is not yet advertising www.gotmilk.com on the Web. At press time the site was averaging 1,000 visits per day.

The CMPB also plans to pitch more 'got milk?' merchandise in a print mailer sometime next year to the database that results from this effort. “I'm still a great believer in hardcopy. I really think you need to give people something they can hold on to,” said Manning. “I'm also hoping that there's some pass-along [with the solo mailer] that you can't get electronically.”

The 'got milk?' awareness effort was originally launched in 1993 to combat a 20-year drop in milk consumption. The campaign launched nationally in 1995. At the same time, Manning said, he received a call from an entrepreneur asking permission to put 'got milk?' on baby clothes.

“That was the birth of 'got milk?' the property as opposed to 'got milk?' the advertising campaign,” said Manning.

The CMPB waited until this September to launch a Web site, because Manning couldn't justify making the Internet part of the organization's awareness-building efforts.

“We never had a Web site because I couldn't figure out what we would do with one,” he said. “We have very high levels of awareness — 93 percent in California and nationally probably in the high 80s,” said Manning.

“But in 1998, it became apparent that we had enough mass in the licensed product area to open up a commerce site,” he said.

The 'got milk?' Web site offers about 20 products including watches, shirts, caps, mugs, golf balls and baby wear. Manning said the biggest seller on the site is the 'got milk?' baby romper for $17.95. He did not reveal sales numbers for the site.

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