CALIFORNIA'S MILK PLAN WINNING SALES

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California's nine-month-old "Got Milk?" promotional campaign has achieved 80% awareness among California consumers and has increased milk processor sales between 1% and 3%, according to campaign sponsors.By next year, awareness is expected to reach 90%, said Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processors Board based here, which launched the multimedia campaign

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California's nine-month-old "Got Milk?" promotional campaign has achieved 80% awareness among California consumers and has increased milk processor sales between 1% and 3%, according to campaign sponsors.

By next year, awareness is expected to reach 90%, said Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processors Board based here, which launched the multimedia campaign last November. The campaign also features product tie-ins.

"We process about 760 million gallons a year here, with a retail value of about $2 billion. So if you think of it, it takes a lot to move and change that business," said Manning. California is the nation's largest milk producing state.

The $23 million promotion, supported by the 40-member processor board, was developed to try to turn around declining milk consumption. Per capita milk consumption in California fell from 26.4 gallons in 1987 to 24.8 gallons in 1992.

The promotion includes television advertising, outdoor billboards, cross-promotions with some branded product manufacturers of foods that go well with milk, in-store point-of-purchase advertising and couponing.

About $200,000 to $300,000 is spent on the in-store media portion of the program, which places the "Got Milk?" message on shelf talkers, on shopping carts and on overhead directories on the cookies and cereal aisles.

The billboards used in the ad campaign are always located within a half mile of a grocery store, said Manning. "We are trying to get people to impulsively say, 'I need milk,' and stop in."

Manufacturer participants have included Nestle Foods, Purchase, N.Y.; General Mills, Minneapolis; Mother's Cookies, Portland, Ore.; two divisions of Kraft General Foods, Glenview, Ill.; Hunt- Wesson, Oakdale, Calif.; the Raisin Advisory Board; Ghirardelli Chocolate, San Leandro, Calif.; Pillsbury, Minneapolis, and Betty Crocker, Minneapolis.

The program's positive performance reflects three factors, said Manning.

"First, within California, we are spending on a par with Coke or Pepsi or Ocean Spray or Bud. Translated nationally, this would be a $220 to $230 million plan," he said.

"Second, we are cross-promoting with some of the most powerful names in food, Wheaties, Cheerios, Nestle, Kraft/General Foods," he said, adding that, third, the campaign is "provocative, surprising and impossible to ignore." One television spot won a major advertising award.

According to an ongoing consumer tracking study, Got Milk? is generating action as well as awareness. When asked if consumers had consumed milk in the past 24 hours, the response grew from 87% to 89% and the frequency of usage jumped from 3.9 to 4.1 times per day.

"The campaign itself seems to have been successful in communicating what we have been after," said Manning. "At certain times of the day, or with certain foods, you have to have milk."

The ads have included messages that highlight the association of milk with cereals, cookies and chocolate flavorings. "It is real logical stuff," said Manning.

The coupons, he noted, are distributed by the branded manufacturers. An example, he said, would be 50 cents off a milk purchase when buying a box of cookies. In exchange, the products are featured in the "Got Milk?" ads.

"We are helping them sell their product and they are doing the generic coupon. It gives people real incentive to buy milk," he said. The coupons are not branded and can thus be used at any retailer for any brand of milk, Manning said.