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Advertising / Got Milk?

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Got Milk? (or got milk? as it's normally rendered) is an advertising campaign by the California Milk Processor Board, advertising (what else) milk. The ads are typically some sort of celebrity or fictional figure encouraging the consumption of milk, usually with a "milk moustache" on their upper lip. Due to the campaign being widespread, it's been "endorsed" by some pretty odd characters and figures, including Shrek, Batman, and even Whoopi Goldberg.note 

The campaign initially lasted from October 24, 1993 to February 24, 2014, when it was replaced with a new slogan called "Milk Life". However, its chocolate milk-focused variant (titled Got Chocolate Milk?) is still in active promotion, and the Got Milk ads themselves still run in California.

The campaign was revived in 2020 in the wake of increasing sales due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Got Tropes?

  • Accidental Discovery: In this commercial, an executive with his mouth full for lack of milk accidentally gives Oreos their name!
  • Advertising Campaigns: The idea of it.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: The general theme of "milk is good for you" could be darkly heavy-handed at times. One commercial features a young boy and his sister who don't want to drink milk, saying it's "for babies". Then the boy points to his elderly neighbor who never drinks it, saying he does just fine. Then said neighbor's arms fall off as he tries to lift something heavy. Cue the boy and his sister screaming in horror, then proceed to gulping their milk. And cue Moral Guardians opposed to depictions of violence deriding the CMPB for the ad.
  • Age-Stereotypical Food: One Got Milk? ad has a man embarrassed to get Trix cereal and covering up his purchase by buying other "grown-up" cereals alongside it. Subverted when it turns out he's the Trix Rabbit in disguise and he was actually nervous about getting caught.
  • all lowercase letters: The most famous example in all advertising.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
  • Bandage Mummy: In one well-known commercial, some guys in a hospital share a cookie with a guy like this, but then can't hear him when he can't swallow for lack of milk. Worse, he might be choking.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Santa commercial has him not only take back the family's presents but also takes their tree and furniture because there's no milk for the cookies and they left the empty carton inside the fridge.
  • Black Comedy: Many of the commercials have a recurring joke where the audience has to laugh at a poor schmuck's misfortune simply because he couldn't drink his milk.
  • Check, Please!: This commercial has a guy eating pancakes taking a 'small sip' on a female customer's milk, but realizes he actually drank most of it. So, he pours his water into the glass to "fill" it back up, with another guy watching the whole thing unfold. The female customer returns and reveals the other guy was her boyfriend. The first guy has an Oh, Crap! expression and meekly asks for the check.
  • Collector of the Strange: The well-known first commercial in the campaign features a guy with a collection of every Alexander Hamilton paraphernalia imaginable failing to answer a question (regarding Hamilton) to a radio contest - where the answer is Aaron Burr - because his mouth is full of peanut butter.
  • Commercial Switcheroo: The Trix Rabbit commercial.
  • Cover-up Purchase: One 1995 ad involves a man buying Trix and covering it up by also purchasing more "grown-up" cereals like Wheaties. It turns out that the man is actually the Trix Rabbit, explaining why he's nervous.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Most of the commercials end with the characters eating cookies or brownies, but they don't have any milk to wash them down, leaving them in distress. The most infamous example is the commercial where the Trix Rabbit finally gets some Trix cereal, only to find out that he doesn't have any milk to put on his cereal.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Any woman with a milk mustache in the print ads qualifies, of course.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Parodied in one commercial where two cops are trying to get a tough suspect to spill. One of them gives him a chocolate cupcake, and then puts a carton of milk well out of his reach.
  • Leaving Food for Santa: Played with. In one ad, Santa puts presents inside a family's house that had left him some brownies, but there was no milk to wash them down with, so Santa ends up taking back all the presents, along with the Christmas tree.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In one commercial, two children who are refusing to drink their milk point to their neighbor, Mr. Miller, as an example of someone who never drinks milk, yet is perfectly healthy, even in his old age. As it happens, Mr. Miller is doing chores in his yard in view of the window, and when he tries to lift his wheelbarrow, his arms snap off. The children and their mother scream in horror. Mr. Miller's reaction?
  • Mistaken for Cheating: There was a radio ad in the 90s which featured a couple. When the lady, who had her mouth full, asked her husband for some milk, he misheard and thought she said she was seeing someone else. Every time she corrected him by saying, "Milk", he thought she was saying Mick and that that was the name of the man she was seeing.
  • Not What I Signed on For: In one ad, a college student agrees to go through an isolation experiment. He's confident he'll be able to pull through at first, but then notices that the milk carton in his fridge is empty. He panics and bangs on the one-way window, begging the scientists for more milk. The scientists show no empathy at all. Just to twist the knife, one of the scientists is eating a bowl of cereal with milk (implying that he used the last of the milk in the carton).
  • Papa Wolf: In this commercial, action star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson delays handling any problems around him, including a cat up a tree, bank robbers, and an Alien Invasion so he can get milk for his kids. (The phrase he uses after he does, "Gotta go to work" would appear later in the movie Furious 7.)
  • Perspective Flip: Many commercials have a Cruel Twist Ending because there's no milk; in one commercial, however, Salma Hayek puts herself through hell to get it, and succeeds, but the trouble now is, she's out of cereal.
  • Power-Up Food: In one commercial, two kids are playing Super Mario 64 and trying unsuccessfully to get Mario up a steep wall. After they give up and leave, Mario leaps out of the television, goes to their refrigerator, and drinks a carton of milk, growing to giant size. Then he returns to the game and scales the wall with ease.
  • Product as Superhero: The Powerpuff Girls appear in this one as a tie-in for their movie.
  • The Real Heroes: In one commercial, a milkman doing his rounds falls down a trapdoor, and into a conference room where The Avengers and a couple other Marvel heroes are meeting, who assume he's there for an interview. While his only "power" is the ability to deliver his much-desired product to customers, they consider that enough for him to join them.
  • Serious Business: Hard to believe the lengths some people will go through for milk in these commercials.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Of course, the regular Aesop is "milk is good for you", but the one that the commercials hit you over the head with at times is, "cookies are no good without milk".
  • Stepford Suburbia: Drysville, a small rural one-horse town (in the commercials) where milk seems to be entirely forbidden. The black and white film with sad music seriously gets the depressed feel across in a town where water is used in cereal and baked goods are shunned. One kid in school charges a buck to see a centerfold of a gallon of milk taped in his locker. They hate it when tourists ask for milk. We see a televised cop show where some rowdy teens are arrested for possession of milk, mixed with chocolate syrup (the cop personally confiscates the milk for himself). One boy leaves to drink milk whenever he wants and sends a "good-bye forever" letter to his parents.
  • Stock Animal Diet: In one The Powerpuff Girls ad, Mojo Jojo steals banana milk because he's a chimpanzee.
  • This Isn't Heaven: One of the most famous commercials has a Jerkass business executive get hit by a truck right after pushing aside other pedestrians on the street and firing someone by cell phone. The afterlife's a beautiful place, there's nice music, all in white, soothing and giant cookies! But when he opens the fridge, all the milk cartons are empty! He asks, "Wait a minute... where am I?" Cue the "got milk?" logo on fire.
  • Snowclones: Oh man, did this campaign garner a lot of them. One guy in the State of Washington even had a "GOTMILF" license plate approved until it was canceled because of complaints. If you want to see the CMPB's favorites, have look at this poster.
    • One 90's magazine ad says "Got Monkey?".
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: In this commercial, a priest almost loses his temper at one.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The Trix Rabbit finally manages to get a box of his very own, smuggled home to an apartment to eat it in peace... only to realize he's out of milk.


Video Example(s):


The Powerpuff Girls - Got Milk

Three separate commercials promote the Got Milk products, starring Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup from "The Powerpuff Girls".

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ProductAsSuperhero

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