Milk - where did you get that mustache?

It took me way too many years to find the "original" mustache campaign that I remember from when I was a little kid - found deep down in the dusty archives of the Swedish Arla Milk products company, photos of famous people posing with big white mustaches. Concept ring a [cow]bell?

Back in the early 1980s some adman was thinking about how to increase consumption of the very healthy, and plentiful variations of filmjölk (yogurt). Lets make people drink their filmjölk was the thought; instead of just having a bowl in the morning with müsli or something in it, why not pour yourself a glass of your favorite kind, and drink it? De-stress the stressed out mornings of the eighties with a tall glass of healthy yogurt - and why not turn the only 'side effect' from drinking the stuff into the hero of the campaign - the telltale mustache that happens when you drink yogurt.

Soon celebrities were lining up to pose with yogurt on their faces, and the writers punned away on the headlines.

In hindsight, this one (top) is quite funny as politician Lars Werner was known to like a glass or ten of stronger drinks, the headline reads "start your morning with a glass". In Swedish this can easily be misunderstood as "Start your morning with a drink" ....

Soul singing Cyndee Peters proclaims the virtue of harmony, brought to your ears by her voice and anyones stomach by yogurt, while comedians from a late-night show based on booze jokes drink from their trademark Martini glasses. The concept worked well, people did begin to drink their yogurt. These days you'll find yogurt in sporty single serving bottles everywhere.

Later, on the other side of the pond.....When the nineties rolled around another adman had another bright idea - mustaches made by milk on famous people! That milk leaves a far less visible mustache is just a minor detail the Art Director can fix, right?

Suddenly everyone wanted to sport a mustache, celebrities again lined up to appear in the ads, and miles of copy was written about the US east coast born campaign. Not to mention books like, The Milk Mustache Book : A Behind-The-Scenes Look at America's Favorite Advertising Campaign and Milk Mustache Mania

When Goodby Silverstein and Partners created the clever "Got Milk" campaign - sans mustaches - their tagline proved so sticky it was later attached on the mustache campaign, which originally started out with the line "Milk - Where's your mustache?". Crazy move that, Got milk? was the answer to the visual question posed in each Goodby poster, working like a proper tagline should, and it really doesn't fit on the mustache campaign.
Then again, I never did swoon over the Milk mustache campaign, as all it reminds me of, is that drinking yogurt is yummy. I think I'll have a tall glass right now, while I contemplate on the old saying "there is nothing new under the sun".

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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deeped's picture

Although "filmjölk" is a different product than milk there are very badlandish... I have searched who might have done the original and my best guess is that it is Hall&Cederquist since they also did the Emma Sjöberg-ad on "Minimjölk" (a milk with almost no fat - really disgusting idea).

The company that keep the southern part of Sweden with milk and alike products did also make a campaign with the same idea but this time the tagline was: "Milk gives you strong legs" and there was a heep of celebs who jumped in the ads.

Dabitch's picture

Why write "the slogan evolved to... Got Milk" when clearly they had to have gotten that off the Goodby Campaign? I dunno, I just got irked by how that was formulated... I'm nitpicking I guess. ;)

James Trickery's picture

Jay Schulberg Dies at 65; Creator of Milk Campaign

In 1994, the nation's milk processors hired Bozell to persuade people to drink their milk. Mr. Schulberg knew he wanted to make milk seem cool, but how? His teams suggested an upside-down cow, among other things. Instead they hired Annie Leibovitz to photograph Naomi Campbell, Lauren Bacall and others for ads that initially appeared only in print. They carried the motto "Milk. What a surprise!" and included short texts like this one, featuring Joan Rivers: "Can we talk? Fattening? Oh, grow up. It's skim milk - and I love it."

The ads soon expanded to include men, especially athletes, and were placed on billboards. The slogan evolved into "Where's your mustache?" and finally, "Got milk?" "The Milk Mustache Book" (Ballantine, 1998), which Mr. Schulberg wrote with Bernie Hogya and Sal Taibi, made the New York Times best-seller list.

James Trickery's picture

Exactly - kind of like this other example Milk and Mobile Phones which makes no sense unless you know about the US East Coast Milk Campaign. Like Dab, I wonder if the Dutch consumer does know about that campaign...?

AnonymousCoward's picture

I think the babybell is really pushing it too far. And i guess it was inspired by the Got Milk? Campaign and not vice versa.

I mean, if you didn't knew about the Got Milk? Campaign, it'll be hard to understand this ad.

James Trickery's picture

From France no less.

kamari's picture

This is hilariously unexpected! Milk? Yogurt? a facial? wax? As long as the rich and famous are doing it....

adlib's picture

I think it never had an edge. No, really.

adlib's picture

It certainly is - I can't stop laughing at this. "Nothing new under the sun" - indeed. Nice work detective !

caffeinegoddess's picture

Great find!
I think the Milk mustache campaign has lost it's edge. Every celeb has been in them...which I think dilutes the ads a bit. I'm sure everyone drinks milk in some way but, I don't know...does Bernie Mack only drink it with his cookies or a slice of cake? Or does he really have a big cold glass of the stuff in the morning with his breakfast? Personally I get tired of the celeb slinging product ads. I don't care. But I'm sure there are plenty who do. But that's why the Goodby campaign is so much stronger, IMHO.

aiiobo's picture

I laughed so hard that milk came out of my nose................

blabla's picture

I'm inclined to believe that ten years after the Swedish ads, some Bozell researcher stumbled over the Swedish campaign in their research of same-generic-market-product ads and plain ripped it off. I'm going to believe that as I just can't get over the fact that Bozell won the National milk account when Goodbys Got Milk is a million miles better and more relevant than a non-existent mustache on some top models lip. "product insight"? bah, even cool-aid leaves more of a mustache.

CopyWhore's picture

Collective unconscious, absolutely! But the interesting bit, I think, is that milk is regarded as a kind of dull, generic product. And yet, great work has consistently been done for it. Ok, Goodby's GOT MILK? was a much better campaign than the moustache one, but still... The moustache campaign is still based on a nice, relevant insight.

And has anyone seen Edson Athyade's campaign for milk, with the bent straw? This Edson bloke used to run FCB Lisbon, and did a nice tv spot with a straw inside a glass of milk. A hand would bend the tip of the straw back 'n forth (you know those straws where the tip bends?) until a super would come up, saying something about how milk is good for your bones and joints...

Sport's picture

This is just bizarre - you're right, the mustache makes more sense with yogurt. Collective subconscious?

Dabitch's picture

it's worth noting the double entendre - "Legs" and "bones" are the same word in Swedish - Milk gives strong bones/legs that is.... Oh, Robblink, I do agree - I've been searching for that Cyndee Peters Milk ad for years... It's been bugging me since I first saw that milk mustache. <-- ad damaged.

Robblink's picture

Wow! This is the mother of all badland campaigns!

yourallfags's picture

you guys have way too much time on your hands, its milk..drink it,dont blog about it.
sincerely, kid whose stuck reading your crappy site

Dabitch's picture

I'm glad that you had a moment in your oh so busy life in 2012 to comment on a post from 2004. Thank you ever so much for your delightful and slightly homophobic input, "yourallfags". I'm sure your mothers heart swells with pride at the thought of your internet achievements.

Gideon Marshall's picture

I hope some enterprising soul is still monitoring this thread and can help me...

Basically a very good friend of mine used to model and appeared in an advert for Swedish Milk some time between 2002-2007 (ish) the premise of the ad was that he was playing computer games and realised he was out of milk, he then as far as I can remember goes on an adventure through his apartment building to get some more, all the time sliding around on an office chair. My friend Willam Judge, became known as the Swedish Milk Boy for years afterwards and used to get recognised all over the world in random places by people who saw the advert.

the advert seems to have disappeared in the mists of time and I'm trying to find a copy. I don't know which specific brand he was advertising for, but this thread seems like it might be a good place to ask if anyone remembers the ad I'm talking about / has a copy / can tell me more info to help me track it down.



anonymous's picture

> But the interesting bit, I think, is that milk is regarded as a kind of dull, generic product. And yet, great work has consistently been done for it.

I know that I am commenting years later, but this rings very true. It also serves as a reminder to new budding ad students that they should have one "generic" product in their portfolio, to really show how good they are.