(Read Time: 3 Minutes)

Wow, what a "disaster" the latest "Got Milk" marketing campaign turned out to be!

I put "disaster" in quotes because the company behind the controversial ads -- who created a tongue-in-cheek campaign showing how drinking “milk can help reduce the symptoms” of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) -- received such a backlash from the Internet, that they had to remove the website created for the sole purpose of making this campaign go viral...

Go figure!

The California Milk Processor Board in conjunction with their ad agency, San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, launched a new social media campaign designed for guys to poke fun at something we've all dealt with directly or indirectly at one time or another.

Got Milk PMS ads

The ads featured pictures of guys holding milk cartons looking quizzically and remorsefully at the camera (presumably at their wives/girlfriends/significant others) with sayings such as:

I'm sorry for the thing -- or things -- I did or didn't do.


I'm sorry for listening to what you said -- and not -- what you meant.

Here's a couple more:

Got milk PMS ad 2Got Milk PMS ad 3

To me, the ads were clever, funny, witty and definitely served their purpose: to make the micro-site (everythingidoiswrong.org - now inactive) go viral and utilize social media to do the marketing for them.

And man did it ever work...

It wasn't long before the company felt pressured to remove the ads/website and did so a full month before they intended.

In fact, they received such a backlash, that they switched over to a new site called Got Discussion (gotdiscussion.org) with the following "apology" and helpful videos and links to those that talked about the controversy:

got discussion screenshot

Was The Backlash Deserved?

Do you think the backlash was deserved?

Was it too harsh?

Should they have pulled the ads and website a full month ahead of schedule?

In this man's humble opinion, the answer is a firm and resounding NO WAY!

It might be me, but isn't the purpose of marketing in it's purest form, to illicit passion within your target audience?

Sure there will always be some that take offense to an innocent joke, ad, or commercial, but the purpose behind the campaign was to go VIRAL and increase exposure for the campaign without spending any money on marketing, aside from the costs of putting everything together.

Guess what!?

It worked beautifully.

I won't sit here and tell you there might not be a few hurt souls out there bemoaning the truth of the ads, or how it might seem to trivialize a sometimes very serious "condition" (am I allowed to call it that?) that women go through, but if you stand back, look at the ads, read the text, and just let it wash over you as you would a joke being told by a friend (whom has probably told you much worse...) it is what it is:

A funny, interactive and VIRAL marketing ploy designed to make people laugh, banter and start TALKING.

For what it was designed to achieve, the ads are in my opinion, an unbridled success.

In fact, you can't buy this type of free exposure, SEO and Internet marketing without a huge budget at your disposal and that still wouldn't guarantee this type of success.

Bottom Line:

When you look at your marketing efforts, this type of approach might or might not be appropriate for your company, but if you are trying for this type of humor and demographic, expect some backlash, prepare for it, and then sit back as you just doubled awareness of your brand!

So long as you don't overstep some modicum of good sense, I say all is fair in social media and branding.

Got Milk?