retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Lots of reaction to yesterday’s piece by Kate McMahon about an ad campaign developed by the “Got Milk?” folks that positioned milk as a way to temper the effects of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Kate felt - and she hardly was alone in this - that perhaps the campaign pushed the envelope a little far in terms of what is acceptable and what will sell more product.

Not everyone agreed with her.

MNB user Thomas Zatkulak wrote:

This bothers you! As a husband of a beautiful woman, both inside and out, who has the typical symptoms of PMS, I am amazed that anyone would find this offensive, let alone in need of an editorial. Life is a gift along with all that goes along with it and it is too short to focus on attacking a simple marketing plan. Whether their humor struck you as funny or not, I hope we  as a country never lose the will to try something new.

MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:

I loved your column on "Got Milk?".

I have an opinion (which I believe we all have and are entitled to):

People have got to loosen up and quit being so offended by the words or actions of others.

What have we become?

I think it is very sad that with all of our liberties in this country, people are so offended by the "little" things or take everything personal. These are the things that lead us to the frivolous law suits and the silly way people react in today's world.

I am from the "olden days" like Kevin. We ate fruits and vegetables right from the plants without washing them. When we dropped a fork or cookie; there was the 5 second rule. You slip on a floor at the store; you get up and move on. When someone said something we did not like; we turned the other cheek. We learned to laugh at ourselves and with others.

We were happier people then......

Another MNB user wrote:

Bottom line - how will that controversial ad topic affect milk sales?  I doubt that it will negatively affect consumption.  This is particularly so since it is generic.  No brand to switch to.  And it just might garner enough attention to increase consumption.

And, from another MNB user:

I am a single mother raising 3 kids, business owner, Ford Truck driver, and a Black Belt - I thought the commercial was hysterical. I actually laughed out loud. I was less amused by Always' "Have a Happy Period" but again, not offended. I am actually more uncomfortable sitting next to my 13 year old son when an ad comes on that discusses the benefits of Viagra or the Kotex ads "break the cycle" that just goes on and on about how you feel when you have your period right down to the blue liquid on underwear.

I think that all of the "outrage" is way over the top. I don't think a PMS commercial, Happy Period commercial or Hooters ad is going to make men view me as less viable in the work place, potentially unworthy of doing business with, incapable of handling stressful situations or making quick decisions during "that time of the month". I think the way a PERSON presents themselves, conducts themselves personally and professionally, communicates, etc. is what most people use in making their decisions on someone - business or otherwise.  A person may try the product, may even become a loyal customer…but radically change the way the feel about a person because of their gender, race, or religion…not so much.

There is always going to be those that make decisions based on stereotypes and no commercial is going to sway those individuals either way. I also believe that if you are an "equal opportunity" type of person it's not going to sway you to believe otherwise.n You will not have someone watch an ad and wake up the next day saying…gee, I guess all women turn into irrational monsters once a month so I should do "X".  

That Got Milk ad may sell more milk because it's funny, attention getting and through the humor it's educational. (I had no idea that calcium could reduce PMS symptoms- I may buy a cow!) How is that any different than watching a comic that jokes about politics, race, religion, obesity? …it's not. Nor, unless it's completely "over the top" is it the exception vs. the rule. How many times have you become more aware/informed? Probably often. Have you come away with a radically different opinion on a topic? Probably not.

Hey ladies, have a glass of milk, laugh, and relax…if we can't laugh at ourselves (let's face it most of us do get PMS) and stop taking this stuff so seriously neither will anyone else.

Yet another MNB user wrote:

Regardless of how one feels about the appropriateness of the ad campaign, I think it worked brilliantly. The point of any ad campaign is to generate sales and/or draw attention, hopefully positive, to your product or brand (although, in many cases, negative is happily accepted). People may be offended, and they certainly have a right to be, but if the intent was to garner media attention for milk, it worked. What makes this case brilliant is that there is no company to get mad at – who am I going to hate, the California Milk Processor Board, the advertising company, the dairy farm out in the country? These organizations don’t sell milk, they don’t have stores, or brands, or recognizable labels. I can’t target the ad company and say I’m not going to buy products they advertise. I can’t identify a single manufacturer of milk and say I’m not going to buy their product anymore. It’s relatively easy to target a specific brand or retailer when they make a mistake like this; for a product as generic as milk, it is much more difficult. And, in my mind, milk seems to be a product like gas – we may grumble about how much it costs, our reliance upon it, and the companies that sell it, but we continue to buy it. Why? Because, there is virtually no alternative. Have you ever tried your Raisin Bran with water/juice/soy milk/tea? Somehow, it just doesn’t work..

Finally, another MNB user wrote:

I think Kate needs to drink a big glass of milk.  Now.

I checked with Kate. She says she prefers Pinot Grigio.
KC's View: