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Faced with declining milk consumption by teenagers, dairy companies are embarking on an advertising campaign with sports and entertainment celebrities and interactive features that they hope will win young people over, The New York Times reported.
With a budget of about $20 million -- one-third of the milk processors' annual advertising expenditures -- the campaign is the latest version of the famous "Got milk?" advertising, which since 1995 has featured celebrities with milk mustaches.
The new campaign's message -- that studies suggest "teens who choose milk tend to be leaner, plus the protein helps build muscle" -- carries the theme "Body by milk" and is reinforced by a new Web site, bodybymilk.com, the newspaper said.
The campaign comes at a particularly volatile time not only for milk processors, but for all beverage manufacturers. Beverage Marketing Corporation, a consulting company, says per capita milk consumption has generally declined each year since 1975. Taylor Nelson Sofres, a marketing research and information company, has found steadily decreasing per capita consumption among teenagers 13 to 17 in the last three years.
Meanwhile, Beverage Digest, a trade publication, reported that the number of cases of soda sold in the United States fell last year for the first time in 20 years, as consumers sought greater variety in drinks and healthier diets.
The timing of the new campaign is "almost kind of like a perfect storm, with the concerns of health experts, schools, parents, the target, media," Sal Taibi, president of Lowe New York, the campaign's creator, told The New York Times. Lowe is a unit of Lowe Worldwide, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
The campaign features four celebrities chosen for their physiques and appeal to teenagers: soccer star David Beckham; Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez; Sasha Cohen, the ice skater; and Carrie Underwood from "American Idol."
Each appears individually in a full-page ad that promotes milk as a way to help teenagers lose weight and build muscle. The ads also claim that "staying active, eating right, and drinking three glasses a day of low-fat or fat-free milk instead of sugary drinks helps you look your best." They end with the question, "Got milk?" the report said.
Processors' previous ads for teenagers stressed milk's ability to promote growth and provide calcium. The new messages should appeal to teenagers, said Kurt Graetzer, chief executive of the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which represents the processors, "because they are very concerned about weight and appearance."
"Milk can be part of the solution," Graetzer said.
The ads will make their debut in the September issues of magazines read by teenagers, such as Blender, CosmoGirl, Seventeen, Electronic Gaming, Spin and Sports Illustrated for Kids. The celebrities will also appear in posters that will be distributed through school foodservice directors in more than 100,000 schools.
The campaign's interactive components include a page on MySpace.com and banner ads on Web sites like Alloy.com, Bolt.com; Facebook.com and Gamezone.com.
The new bodybymilk.com Web site, created by the Chicago office of Weber Shandwick Worldwide, part of Interpublic, features an "auction" in which visitors can bid each day for merchandise -- from companies like Adidas, the sports apparel maker; Baby Phat, a clothing maker; Fender, the guitar manufacturer; and CCS, which makes skateboards -- using bar code or expiration date data from milk containers. Visitors to the site can also create their own milk mustache ads, according to the newspaper.