CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Do generic ads help farmers?

US dairy farmers are not happy paying for generic ad work.

US dairy farmers are not happy paying for generic ad work.

The Fluid Milk Processors Promotion Board is the US equivalent of our

Milk Marque - a powerful industry marketing body. Recently, the board

has produced - together with its agency, Bozell Worldwide - a series of

ads in which celebrities such as the supermodel, Naomi Campbell, are

pictured wearing a milk moustache. The campaign is worth an estimated

dollars 165 million and the board and Bozells are proud of the work.

Michael Gallo is the largest dairy farmer in the US, a cheesemaker and

scion of the famous wine-producing family. He is less contented with

the campaign. He is one of thousands of farmers in the US who helped to

pay for it. And he doesn’t even sell milk.

But for Gallo there was worse: his enforced contributions to the

National Dairy Board were used to fund a generic campaign promoting all

cheeses. Gallo claims he then had to spend more than dollars 400,000

trying to differentiate his cheese from other brands.

Perhaps Mr Gallo is being a little thrifty with the purse strings.

Generic campaigns surely help all farmers by increasing overall demand.

Gallo doesn’t believe that has happened, and he’s now suing the state

and federal milk marketing boards and the state and federal agriculture

departments which oversee these boards.

His research reveals that the National Dairy Board’s ‘got milk?’

campaign, which ran between 1984 and 1990, succeeded in increasing milk

prices by only 1.3 per cent and demand by 0.3 per cent. And the big-

spending ‘dancing raisins’ campaign launched by the California Raisin

Advisory Board failed to stop raisin sales from falling in the late 80s.

But the US Department of Agriculture is not about to give up its

contributions without a fight. It has asked the Supreme Court to step in

later this month to decide whether these huge generic marketing pushes

are constitutional.