The New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott reported on a new campaign for the California Milk Processor Board that demonstrates cross-cultural marketing—yet ultimately displays cultural cluelessness. It’s a total market approach that’s total bullshit. Or cow shit, since the commercials are trying to sell milk.
BTW, the commercials suck, which hardly helps promote the cross-cultural/total market propaganda. The only thing tying the spots into a campaign is the injection of the iconic “got milk?” tagline. The individual executions—“Champion” and “Brave”—are contrived, clichéd and crappy. Seriously, these could be the worst installments in a collection that has featured breakthrough ideas for many years. If this stuff is indeed representative of cross-cultural thinking, one could easily argue in support of sticking with segregation. That is, let the Whites and minorities continue to toil in their respective advertising agency silos.
What’s most bewildering is that the two shops responsible for the commercials—Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Grupo Gallegos—typically do award-winning work. Did the cross-cultural collaboration lead to committeeism? Or could it be that deliberately catering to all markets waters down the milk?
California Milk Processor Board Executive Director Stephen James explained, “This is the first time our agencies have worked as a cohesive team on creative strategy, creative execution and media planning. … It’s happening now as a result of a coming together of trends, in California especially, that seem to be getting more and more pronounced. … Terms like ‘the Hispanic market’ and ‘the general market’ seem so quaint at this point because you’re seeing such a cross-pollination of media, language, food, culture, you name it. … We’re looking at Californians as they evolve into one market.” Wow, James has obviously been drinking something much stronger than milk. If the Hispanic market and the general market seem so quaint, why does James continue to employ separate shops? Why was collaboration necessary? Couldn’t one agency have handled the total market solo? Hell, a roomful of monkeys could have outperformed GS&P and Grupo Gallegos on this initiative.
According to the NY Times story, Jeff Goodby “was the lead creative director for the campaign, overseeing creative employees of his agency and Grupo Gallegos.” Um, when did Goodby become qualified to lead such an endeavor? Handing him the reins is like asking Donald Sterling to emcee the ADCOLOR® Awards. Goodby’s role underscores how the cross-cultural/total market trend is essentially a thinly veiled attempt to give complete control to the White agencies. It’s not progressive; rather, it’s absolutely regressive, as well as repressive, oppressive and depressive. Besides, Goodby failed to establish harmony in a White coalition, so believing he could run a multicultural affair showed utter ignorance and insanity.
Goodby stated that in the “Champion” spot, the Black mother, Black girl and Black decathlete were cast so they could “easily be Caribbean Hispanic.” Huh?! Anyone who has ever produced work for Caribbean audiences knows Goodby’s culturally clueless contentions are laughably incorrect. The man deserves a sixth appearance in the C’MON WHITE MAN! series.
“We flew [Grupo Gallegos] teams up [to San Francisco] and vice versa,” Goodby said, “to work together in the same room on the ads.” Why? Grupo Gallegos has historically hatched spots that nabbed Cannes Lions, as has GS&P. This team-up resulted in awfulness that stinks worse than grossly sour milk.
To wrap up, somebody owes Pepper Miller an apology—and kudos for being downright prophetic.
Selling Milk to All Audiences, With a Unified Campaign
By Stuart Elliott
THE California Milk Processor Board, like many marketers, has one agency creating campaigns for the general market and another creating campaigns for ethnic audiences, in this instance Spanish-speaking consumers. Now, in a shift indicative of a movement on Madison Avenue known as cross-cultural marketing or a “total market” approach, the board asked its two agencies to collaborate on a campaign encouraging all Californians, regardless of ethnicity or the language they speak, to buy and drink more milk.
The campaign is to begin on Wednesday with two television commercials, each with soundtracks in English and Spanish; plans call for the spots to be followed by radio ads, digital ads and social media content. The ads are the result of the teaming of the board’s general market agency — Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, part of the Omnicom Group — and the Hispanic agency Grupo Gallegos in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The board has worked since 1993 with Goodby, Silverstein, which created the familiar “Got milk?” slogan that the board licensed for national dairy marketing efforts from 1995 until earlier this year. Ads from Grupo Gallegos, the board’s Hispanic agency since 2005, carry the theme “Toma leche,” or “Drink milk.”
“This is the first time our agencies have worked as a cohesive team on creative strategy, creative execution and media planning,” said Stephen James, executive director of the board in San Clemente, Calif. “It’s happening now as a result of a coming together of trends, in California especially, that seem to be getting more and more pronounced.”
“Terms like ‘the Hispanic market’ and ‘the general market’ seem so quaint at this point because you’re seeing such a cross-pollination of media, language, food, culture, you name it,” he added. “We’re looking at Californians as they evolve into one market.”
That expresses a philosophy of those who advocate the total-market approach: As the American population becomes more diverse, they prefer to focus on the similarities among consumers rather than the differences.
“Total market is where things are headed,” said Michael Fernandez, chief executive of Factory 360, an agency in New York not involved in the milk campaign. “You’re marketing in a ‘Modern Family’ world, not an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ world.”
The commonality celebrated in the campaign, Mr. James said, is that “the most important job” for the target of the ads — parents who buy milk, particularly mothers — “is making sure their children have a healthy future: a universally powerful force that transcends culture and language and ethnicity.”
In one commercial, a bedraggled woman speaks to a girl in a shopping cart in the milk aisle of a supermarket. “I’m you, from the future,” the woman tells the girl, who replies disappointedly, “You’re me?” The woman says: “I know. Drink this.” As the girl drinks milk, the woman exclaims, “It’s working, keep drinking,” races out of the supermarket and transforms into a champion decathlete. “We did it,” the woman shouts to the younger version of herself back in the store, where the girl’s mother is frantically filling the cart with milk.
The mother, the girl and the decathlete, who are black, were cast so they could “easily be Caribbean Hispanic,” said Jeff Goodby, the co-chairman of Goodby, Silverstein. He was the lead creative director for the campaign, overseeing creative employees of his agency and Grupo Gallegos.
“We flew their teams up” to San Francisco “and vice versa,” Mr. Goodby said, “to work together in the same room on the ads.”
The other commercial also plays with the passage of time. It begins with a firefighter of no discernible ethnicity pouring himself a glass of milk as a mother is heard talking to her young son, who is scared of the dark. “Let’s think about some people who make you feel brave,” she says, and when the boy replies, “Firemen,” the firefighter is shown rescuing a boy from a house fire and reuniting him with his mother. The commercial ends with the on-screen words “What you say with a glass of milk lasts forever.”
A lot of the “soulful, emotional tone” of the commercials “came from working with the guys at Grupo Gallegos,” Mr. Goodby said.
The lead strategic director for the campaign was Andrew Delbridge, chief strategy and engagement officer of Grupo Gallegos; he oversaw employees of his agency and Goodby, Silverstein.
“For milk, what we and Goodby had done was to take parallel paths toward the same goal,” said John Gallegos, president and chief executive of Grupo Gallegos. “This is about today’s market, and tomorrow’s, recognizing that in California we’re on the front edge of what’s happening in the rest of the country.”
“There’s a fine line” in adopting cross-cultural marketing, Mr. Gallegos said, in that “if you try to say too much to everybody, you wind up saying nothing.” Still, “our philosophy has always been that it’s one marketplace,” he added. “You have to go forward with one collective voice.”
To that end, Mr. Gallegos is making Marty Orzio the agency’s chief creative officer; Mr. Orzio, who had been serving on an interim basis, was chief creative officer of general market agencies like Energy BBDO and Gotham.
“You’ve got to put the best talent on client assignments,” Mr. Gallegos said, “talent that understands the U.S. as a whole.”
The budget for the campaign is around what the milk board typically spends, a bit more than $10 million on an annualized basis. Plans call for the ads to run through January, Mr. James said, “and then we’ll see what the results are” before deciding whether to ask the two agencies to collaborate again.