American Marketing Association of Las Vegas

Athletes and Milk Go Together Like, Well, Cookies and Milk

Professional athletes have made headlines recently for making a sugary soda their postgame beverage of choice. Now milk marketers are hoping that they make a “healthier” decision.

Washington, D.C.-based MilkPEP this year launched Built With Chocolate Milk, a print, TV and digital ad campaign that repositions chocolate milk as a health drink for athletes, and features professional soccer player Kelley O’Hara and professional basketball player Kevin Love. “Chocolate milk has been viewed for the last 50 years or so primarily as something kids have at school. This is an opportunity to give people a new way of thinking about milk,” says Miranda Abney, marketing director at MilkPEP.

The campaign is built on the idea that the beverage, which delivers both protein and sugar, can replenish an athlete’s depleted stores better than some other beverages. Chocolate milk has been named the “official recovery beverage” of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, and MilkPEP is distributing chocolate milk at the finish lines of 22 races around the country in 2015. “We’re able to greet 20,000 people who have had an intense workout … put a chocolate milk in their hands, and let them experience it for themselves,” Abney says.

As a result of MilkPEP’s efforts, chocolate milk sales were up 11% over the month of May, and milk sales, overall, have risen over the last year, Abney says. “The dairy companies are really getting behind this. It’s an opportunity to innovate, and that is critical for the dairy industry. It’s working to keep milk relevant in the everyday life of Americans, and it’s starting to take hold in the marketplace.”

In May, the San Clemente, Calif.-based California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the organization responsible for promoting milk in the state of California, launched its own attempt to increase milk consumption. The organization released a line of snacks with the “Got Milk?” slogan through licensing deals with New York-based food distribution company Got Snacks?; Minneapolis-based Diversified Flavor, a subsidiary of consumer products company Diversified Consumer Goods; and Weymouth, Mass.-based Melville Candy Co. The three companies produce cookies, granola, cereals and cereal bars; flavored liquid and powder milk infusers; and hot chocolate spoons, respectively, which bear the “Got Milk?” logo.

The “Got Milk” slogan was created for the CMPB in 1993 by San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and was used by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the national promotional organization for milk processors, from 1995 until early 2014. The CMPB continues to use the slogan in its own promotional efforts.

The goal of the licensing deal is to increase consumption of milk by developing products that complement it, says Lauren Sutton, associate director of brand management at Beanstalk, a New York-based marketing agency that is working with the CMPB to expand the Got Milk? brand. “We’re finding the right manufacturers to support that goal, and putting together products that eventually will steer consumers in that direction. Whether they’re flavoring milk to get it to taste better, or trying to get their kids to drink more milk, put milk in their cereal or have cookies and milk, ultimately, they’re driving the consumption of milk.”

“You can’t get a better, more synergistic license than ‘Got Milk,’” says Paul Henson, CEO of Diversified Flavor, which produces the “Got Milk?” flavor infusers in varieties such as cotton candy, strawberry and iced vanilla latte. “It’s about finding new ways to enjoy milk, and taking some of the hottest food trends right now, like iced coffee, and making milk a part of those trends.”

The “Got Milk?” products currently are available in Sam’s Club, ShopRite, Giant Eagle, Wegmans, Shoppers World and Fagen Pharmacy stores, and will launch at more retailers nationwide in the fall. They’re being promoted on the CMPB’s social media channels and through in-store displays and sampling. “[Retailers] love the product, and they love the packaging,” says Viresh Varma, executive vice president of Got Snacks?. “We thought this was the right time to bring milk and cookies together.”​

This article was originally published in the June 9, 2015, issue of Marketing News Weekly.​ 

Author Bio: Christine Birkner is the senior staff writer for Marketing News and Marketing News Weekly. E-mail her at


Categories: Advertising,Marketing,Strategies.