Making milk whole?

Making milk whole?

Milk processors in Western Pennsylvania and nationwide are hoping to exploit the coronavirus pandemic as the industry’s marketing arm revives the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign.

The only problem is, the last “Got Milk?” effort, a two-decade long campaign, did nothing to increase tanking milk consumption in the United States. In fact, milk sales fell during the period.

The original campaign featured the well-known (and often jokingly conscripted) tag line and photos of celebrities with milk-coated upper lips.

The new campaign, according to The Associated Press, will seek to capitalize on a 27 percent increase in milk consumption in March over last March and, year-over-year, an 8.3 percent increase from January through July 18.

Dairy processors are paying for the revived “Got Milk?” campaign through the Milk Processor Education Program.

But the industry long has been heavily subsidized by taxpayers which, perversely, has led to too many dairy farmers producing too much milk. And money being fungible, well, we still wonder who’s really paying for this effort.

The AP says the new campaign won’t mimic the old. Instead, it will feature “people doing funny things with milk.” Cue the parodies that you can bet might be funny but hardly flattering if not off-color.

Among those “funny things” – opening a gallon of milk with one’s toes,  jumping into a kiddie pool full of milk and cereal and an Olympic swimmer traversing the length of a pool while balancing a glass of milk on her head.

All this said, real milk’s major competitors have experienced far larger coronavirus stay-at-home-related sales. To wit, for the same January to mid-July period, “oat milk” sales, year-over-year, were up an astounding 270 percent.

By the way, “oat milk” isn’t even milk. It is made of oak blended with water, then strained to, as one website notes, “create a smooth creamy liquid.”

Yum, right?

What might happen once (if?) the coronavirus pandemic runs its course is anybody’s guess. But milk producers should be wary of yet another ad campaign that, past being prologue, very well could do nothing to help their cause.

And should the new campaign end up like the old campaign, public policy makers at the state and national levels should not rush in with even more public money in yet another perverted government attempt to make milk whole.

So to speak.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).