Inquiry 2 – Got Milk? Media Rhetoric

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Zach Weisenbarger

Missy Halcomb

English 111 Section JK

30 September 2010

Got Rhetoric?  An Analysis of got milk’s? Advertisement

Advertisements today, don’t just display a product and tell you to buy it, or to use it.  Today, each individual advertisement has tons of components that work together, to create ads that have appeal to a wide spectrum likes and dislikes that viewers may express.  I know everyone has seen one of their favorite superstar sports athletes, or maybe their favorite musician in a magazine with a milk mustache on their face.  But, have you ever thought what really goes into the “got milk?” commercials?  According to Amy Gifford, “[got milk?] has to be one of the most successful campaigns of all time.”.  The campaign has spread to numerous countries all over the world, of which,  speak hundreds of different languages, and use their own unique forms of the original American advertisement to appeal best in any specific culture.  With “got milk?” being so large scale, they have to be doing something right, that appeals to the masses, but what is it?  “Got milk?” intertwines the use of famous celebrities, rhetoric involving ethos, pathos, and logos, and has an extremely unique style.  All of these elements working together, are what helps “got milk?” achieve its jaw-dropping 90% consumer recall rate.

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The key to a good advertisement, is obviously to use techniques that will appeal to certain age groups.  “Got milk?” ads target as big of an age group as possible.  Many of the times, readers may see a sentence or so displayed next to a celebrity with some random benefit of drinking milk.  The sentences are generic enough to be able to be applied to the parent age consumer, and all the way down to the 5 year old child age group.  Uses of different celebrities would apply to where the ad is displayed however, and sometimes the celebrities or person with the milk moustache might be what targets certain groups of people.  In a Sports Illustrated For Kids, the campaign would use someone that appeals to the child age group that like sports, since it is going to be displayed in an SI Kids.  Recently used superstars include LeBron James, Peyton Manning,  and Alex Rodriguez.  Comparatively, if the ad were seen in a People Magazine, or something for a more grown up audience, the celebrity seen may be someone such as Hayden Panettiere, or a family shot of Tim and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  No matter what the audience, or where the ad is displayed, “got milk?” does a magnificent job of making sure the main focus of the ad fits the group of people, and appeals to the interest behind why the reader is even viewing the ad in any given magazine in the first place.

With the target audience down and out of the way, the next thing that “got milk?” cleverly does, is work in a witty one or two sentence caption under the endorser of the ad.  When Hayden Panettiere was displayed for example, is quoted as saying “You


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don’t have to be a hero to feel invincible.  That’s why I drink milk.” (Fleeman).  Hayden stars in a weekly television show known as Heroes, so using the play on words can

target teens and still relate to where she originally got her fame from.  Other ads, are meant to target health to get more attraction.  A recent photo of Rihanna with her newly acquired “mustache” says “Drink it in…Some studies suggest that teens who choose milk…tend to be leaner and the protein helps build muscle.”.  Growing up, people are generally told that milk is very healthy to drink.  Using a very attractive and famous singer in “got milk?” not only gives it credibility, but also convinces people to drink it so that they can look “like” Rihanna by being fit and more lean.

On a deeper level of rhetoric, instead of the generic images and obvious slogans, “got milk?” utilizes advertising with a strong mixture of ethos, logos, and pathos.  Using so many celebrities as campaigning tools, “got milk?” seems instantly credible to its millions of viewers.  Ethos is generally the main focus of these ads, because the logic that is supposed to be applied when you see LeBron James with a milk mustache, is “Wow! He’s one of the best basketball players around, so drinking milk can make me strong like him, and I can be really good too!”, or something of that sort.  A good example of pathos being prevalent, would be relating it back to the  Tim and Elizabeth Hasselbeck advertisement.  This specific ad, appeals more towards the everyday American family, because they are just sitting together like everyone else in the world.  It would be a lot more easy to relate to a couple sitting in a chair, than say Tiger Woods chipping a shot into the hole from the rough 70 yards out.  The final piece to their

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campaign, is the obviously stated facts or statistical appeal.  As seen on the Danica Patrick “got milk?” ad, “[Milks] protein helps build muscle and its unique mix of nutrients help me refuel after a workout.” (Donatelli).  If all of these were used individually, this campaign would be any other random page in a magazine that you just glance at and neglect to really pay attention to, but with all of it worked together, “got milk?” has successfully been labeled one of the most successful advertisement campaigns of all time.

Most ads, have one purpose in mind; to make money.  Got Milk? on the other hand, doesn’t really profit from advertising about milk.  Yeah, they get money from the milk companies, but the main purpose behind got milk’s campaign is honestly to just get a healthier population.  The tone of the ads are always positive and encouraging, which is always a positive mentality towards the health of human beings.  The ads are very down to earth, besides the fact they use celebrities, which just helps it spread more furiously.  By appealing to the everyday, average, human being, got milk effectively appeals to almost all of the people who access their campaigning advertisements.  Combining almost every form of advertisement in a very relatable, and simple campaign has proven to be one of the best ways of getting a message across over the past 30 years.  Not only did the simple, yet elegant campaign work in the United States, but with it being worldwide, it really shows how simple rhetoric can appeal so much to such diverse bodies of people.



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Works Cited

Donatelli, Joe. All Left Turns. 12 5 2009. 25 9 2010 <>.

Fleeman, Mike. People. 22 8 2007. 23 9 2010 <,,20052954,00.html>.

Gifford, Amy. Inventor Spot. 2007. 22 9 2010 <>.

Got Milk? 2010. 20 9 2010 <>.


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