Got Milk?

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The ad campaign “Got Milk” is said to be one of the most successful campaigns in U.S. history. What caused this sudden need to sell more milk? Well, a look back at the history of milk consumption will give us the answer! Until the invention of refrigeration and pasteurization, drinking milk was not as popular as it is today. Once the invention of these technologies, plus government intervention was implemented, the milk industry began to boom. By WWII, Americans were drinking two to three glasses of milk a day. However, farmers were producing so much milk that the government began using the surplus for school lunches and government supplied cheese.

Milk consumption began to shift again, and by the 1990s, it had decreased by twenty percent. Reasons for the decrease in milk drinkers include the fact that Americans dined out more often, and the idea that milk was perceived as a child’s beverage and the population under eighteen was shrinking as it was the post-Baby Boomer years. Another major influence was the marketing and design of other bottled beverages, which began being produced in the 1960s and 70s. The marketing for these beverages were incredibly successful. The bottles were shaped differently, they were more colorful and exciting, and they traveled well. Milk became known as a boring beverage associated with domesticity. It was clear that milk needed an image change. 

The “Got Milk?” campaign was created to increase the consumption of milk in those who already drank milk since research had shown that it is easier than converting new customers. The campaign produced commercials showing people running out of milk during moments when having milk was crucial for success. Another strategy was to make drinking milk cool. More commercials as well as ads were produced to specifically target a young audience. The ads, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, featured celebrities at the peak of their popularity with milk mustaches. The “Got Milk?” Ad became so popular by 2000 that national awareness of the ad was between 80 to 90%. While the campaign was successful in the 1990s, American’s drink preferences have since shifted due to many reasons including climate change, demographic shifts, and veganism. Now, the focus has shifted to marketing other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. 


Holt, D. B. (2019, February 12). Got milk?. ANA Educational Foundation. 

Kauffman, J. (2022, December 1). Why “got milk?” is one of the greatest ad campaigns of all time. Saveur. 


Catalog ID AD1075