Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Campbell Soup Company, long the dominant force in the American canned-soup market as well as a player in many other food and beverage categories, saw consistent sales losses in its all-important original Campbell’s soup line throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. These condensed soups still constituted the best-selling soup brand in the country and had one of the most recognizable labels in the world, the iconic red-and-white can, but condensed soup was being progressively upstaged by ready-to-eat brands (including Campbell’s own Chunky soup) prized for their convenience. Having unsuccessfully tried numerous tactics in the attempt to revive its core business, Campbell’s in 2003 hit on a combination of manufacturing, packaging, shelving, and communications tactics that positioned it to make an integrated bid, on behalf of all of its soup products, for consumers’ attention. A major part of this effort was a decisive change in marketing tone, targeting, and strategy, embodied in the ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ campaign of 2003–4.
‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead,’’ crafted by Campbell’s longtime ad agency BBDO New York, used an estimated $100 million budget and employed the conventions of reality television, which was extremely popular at the time, in a series of commercials designed to encourage the consideration of Campbell’s full range of soups as replacements for a variety of meal types and snack foods. The spots were hosted by the pushy yet charming Gordon Elliott, the star of his own Food Network reality show, in which he stopped passersby and knocked on strangers’ doors, asking them to try dishes that he himself cooked. The Campbell’s commercials used this same premise—with Elliott intruding on ordinary families at mealtime, drivers of cars stopped at intersections, and the homes of celebrities—in order to suggest the consumption of a particular Campbell’s soup variety.
‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ made a crucial contribution to the ongoing attempt to revitalize the Campbell Soup Company, an attempt that saw its first signs of success during the campaign’s run. In 2004 the company’s famed condensed-soup line saw its first sales gains since the 1980s, surprising analysts who had predicted the brand’s continued decline.

Campbell’s soup, long one of America’s most recognizable packaged foods, fell precipitously out of favor with consumers in the 1990s and early 2000s. The demand for ever-more-convenient food products translated into the ascendance of ready-to-eat soups such as the Campbell Soup Company’s own Chunky and Select brands and General Mills’ Progresso. Such products took market share away from the Campbell’s condensed varieties, which were sold in the famous red-and-white can—an ironic development considering the fact that a primary attribute of Campbell’s condensed soups had always been the ease with which they could be prepared. Though Chunky and Select posted consistent sales gains, the core brand, condensed soup, accounted for approximately 70 percent of the company’s soup operations and 35 percent of its profits, so Campbell remained committed to reviving it. In the 1990s and early 2000s the marketing strategy for Campbell’s soup—with creative work chiefly crafted by ad agency BBDO New York—underwent drastic revision almost yearly, as did the roster of Campbell executives charged with reviving the brand. Industry observers characterized these changes as desperate attempts to update the product’s image, and corporate analysts predicted that the declines in condensed-soup sales would continue indefinitely. In 2002 Campbell launched a new product line, Soup at Hand, America’s first ‘‘sippable’’ soup, which was packaged in a microwaveable container designed to fit in a person’s hand for on-the-go consumption. This increase in portability, positioning soup to compete against snack and fast foods generally perceived as less wholesome and nutritious, translated into the company’s most successful product launch since the introduction of the Chunky variety almost 30 years earlier. Meanwhile, the company’s new president of U.S. soup, Jeremy Fingerman, encouraged innovation in Campbell’s soup advertising. Long pitched to stay-at-home moms via wholesome TV imagery, the brand in late 2002 targeted college students with wry outdoor ads in select cities—
Boston, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati—as a means of testing the core brand’s ability to grow market share outside its traditional audience. In 2003 Campbell’s attempt to assure consumers that soup was, as Fingerman put it in an interview with Advertising Age, ‘‘the superior simpler meal,’’ gained further momentum. It included such measures as the reformulation of the condensed soups’ recipes, the addition of pop-top lids to the condensed-soup cans, the introduction of new Soup at Hand flavors, the offering of Chunky and Select in microwaveable containers, and a renewed focus on supermarket shelving strategies.

‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ was rooted in the company’s attempt to convince consumers that soup was a better option for those seeking a simple and healthy meal. BBDO and Campbell used reality-based TV spots, some of which were scripted and some of which were not, to update the soup brands’ images and make them seem relevant to ‘‘today’s diverse consumer population,’’ as president of Campbell North America, Larry McWilliams, said in a press release. The reality-based approach was, industry observers noted, a significant departure from Campbell’s heritage as a traditional advertiser targeting stay-at-home moms with images of wholesome domesticity.
The commercials featured a single spokesperson, the Australian-born Gordon Elliott, star of the Food Network show Door Knock Dinners. Modeled on that program, in which the pushy but charismatic Elliott confronted people at home or on the street and asked them to eat a meal that he had prepared, the Campbell’s spots showed Elliott urging strangers and celebrities to try Campbell’s soup products in place of other snack or meal options. Individual commercials targeted different audiences, depending on the object of Elliott’s attentions. While the spot that showed Elliott intruding on the home of TV personality and restaurateur B. Smith appealed to adult women, spots in which Elliott focused his antics on younger people were meant to appeal to kids. For instance, Elliott played basketball with the 16-year-old rapper Bow Wow in one commercial for Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Other spots supported newly developed Soup at Hand varieties expressly developed for children, such as Pizza, Taco, and Mexican noodle flavors. The campaign marked Campbell’s first sustained targeting of children.

In addition to being an internally significant change in strategy, the fact that Campbell aimed its soup advertising at children was a noteworthy development in the intensifying competition with rival soup brand Progresso. Progresso’s most successful recent advertising campaign, and its first to include national TV commercials, attempted to make the case that Campbell’s was kids’ fare but that Progresso—which was not condensed and claimed, for instance, such attributes as white meat and chunky vegetables in its chicken noodle variety—was worthy of adult palates. Launched in 1998, the Progresso campaign was called ‘‘Discover the Better Taste of Progresso,’’ and it targeted women aged 25 to 54. One TV spot showed a male office worker eating Chicken & Stars soup from a bowl, which was positioned alongside a juvenile lunchbox and a can clearly meant to suggest Campbell’s. A female coworker approached the man and said, ‘‘You know, Chicken & Stars used to be my favorite. Then I learned to ride a two-wheeler. Come on, you’re an adult now. There’s a better tasting soup.’’ Print ads took the comparative concept even further, identifying Campbell’s by name. Progresso sales climbed by 12 percent during the 1998–9 soup season—fall through spring—and research indicated that a large proportion of these sales increases could be attributed to the campaign. Progresso’s gains were likewise in line with the industry-wide trend away from condensed soups. By 2003 Progresso’s annual sales had climbed to $424 million, a marked improvement over its 1998 total of $258 million.
Progresso’s most direct competitor was not Campbell’s condensed lines, however, but Campbell’s Chunky brand, which likewise employed messages of food quality and flourished at least partly at the expense of the original Campbell’s brand. Chunky’s most recent advertising retained the long-running tagline ‘‘The soup that eats like a meal’’ and featured professional football players being accosted by their mothers (usually played by actors), who used various humorous ruses to ensure that their sons were eating Chunky soup. Launched in 1997, the campaign ran for many years, corresponding with a period of enormous Chunky sales growth, despite the fact that industry critics typically disliked the spots’ lack of subtlety and unsophisticated attempts at humor.

‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead,’’ which ran on television during the 2003–4 soup season—fall through spring—at an estimated cost of $100 million, represented a sizable risk for Campbell, because it departed from the company’s previous advertising in more ways than one. The tonal dissimilarity of the irreverent, reality-based TV spots to the emotional, family-oriented advertising of Campbell’s more successful past was perhaps the most obvious change in the eyes of consumers, but the unification of Campbell’s full line of soups under one advertising platform was an important strategic shift as well. Larry McWilliams stated in a press release, ‘‘[W]e’re single-minded in our focus to change how people think about soup. A unified platform will maximize the impact and efficiency of both our message and our media buying . . . Our aim is to shake consumers up with a very different creative effort that will get them thinking about soup in new ways.’’ The campaign also featured far more individual spots than a typical Campbell’s campaign, which allowed the ad agency to use a variety of different pitches tailored to specific targets and products. This comparatively drastic rethinking of the company’s advertising strategy was supported by the changes in product formulation, packaging, and shelving that had recently been announced.
The TV spots were shot on location with small crews using handheld video cameras instead of film, a strategy aimed at generating a look of immediacy that was in keeping with the reality TV shows of the time. The first spot was called ‘‘Anthem,’’ and it showed host Elliott confronting a succession of ordinary people in an office setting and on a street, asking them to try the Campbell’s products newly available in microwaveable containers. Other unscripted commercials showed Elliott barging into real families’ homes during meals and arguing that they should ‘‘Make it Campbell’s instead’’ and putting Soup at Hand containers in the hands of drivers stopped at street intersections. Reflecting on the usefulness of these encounters for the purposes of advertising, Elliott told Advertising Age, ‘‘Nothing works better than letting real people tell you what they think.’’
These commercials alternated with others featuring celebrities who were paired with specific brands in ways that leveraged the appeal each had among particular groups of TV viewers. Elliott arrived at the home of trendsetting New York restaurateur B. Smith in one commercial, with the suggestion that she try Campbell’s Select Italian Wedding soup, one of the company’s most popular upmarket offerings, rather than cold sandwiches. In another commercial Elliott traveled to the Indiana home of the Dilley sextuplets, where he demonstrated for the benefit of the six siblings and their parents various ways of creating interesting new meals by adding common household mixings and toppings to Campbell’s Tomato Soup. In the spot featuring rapper Bow Wow, Elliott and the 16-year-old star squared off for a game of one-on-one basketball, with the winner to receive a meal of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. In a slight twist on the other commercials’ concept, one spot showed Sandra Lee, who had her own Food Network show and was the author of the best-selling cookbook Semi-Homemade Meals (in which she offered recipes that used ready-made products such as Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup), instructing Elliott in the preparation of Campbell’s Seafood Tomato Alfredo.
The commercials depended, for much of their effectiveness, on Elliott’s personality and his ability to generate off-the-cuff humor and enthusiasm for the brand. Leavening his brazen intrusiveness with charm and poise, Elliott was able to disarm participants in the unscripted spots, and he showed considerable personal magnetism onscreen. His behavior in the commercials was meant to seem a daring update of the long-established advertising practice of employing spokespeople.

In early 2003, prior to the ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ campaign, Campbell unveiled a marketing, packaging, and promotions platform uniting its portable lines of soups. Recasting the well-known Campbell’s slogan, ‘‘M’m! M’m! Good!’’—which dated from the 1930s—the ‘‘M’m! M’m! Good! To Go’’ initiative consisted of the introduction of singleserve microwaveable soups as well as the inclusion of the Campbell’s Soup at Hand ‘‘sippable’’ brand under the new ‘‘To Go’’ banner. Packaging and in-store materials directed attention to the convenienceenhancing innovations of the ‘‘M’m! M’m! Good! To Go’’ products, and a significant portion of Campbell’s overall advertising budget was devoted to spreading awareness about the new and repackaged products. The ‘‘M’m! M’m! Good! To Go’’ soups represented one of the most promising avenues for Campbell’s growth, and their inclusion in the umbrella ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ campaign increased the credibility of that broader effort’s primary claim, which was that Campbell’s products were a convenient and wholesome substitute for a wide range of meals and snacks.

The ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ concept remained in place through 2004, and the company put particular emphasis on extending the appeals to children, preteens, and teens that had first been tested in the Elliott-helmed commercials. Campbell also adapted the ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ theme to its new Carb Request soups, aimed at low-carbohydrate dieters, and to a series of Soup at Hand efforts aimed at women who tended to skip or skimp on lunch. Overall Campbell’s change in approach—from marketing within the soup category to marketing its products as the answer to a wide variety of snack and mealtime occasions—was credited with spurring the company’s long-awaited turnaround, and this change was substantially driven by the ‘‘Make It Campbell’s Instead’’ campaign. In 2004, for the first time since the 1980s, Campbell’s core condensed-soup brand not only stabilized its losses but also showed sales gains, topping the $1 billion mark in total sales. Campbell’s company-wide sales growth began outpacing analysts’ predictions, and the company was finally credited with arriving at a workable model for generating sustained success in an evolving soup marketplace.


Pepperidge Farm, Inc.’s Goldfish crackers, introduced in 1962, had by 2004 evolved into a megabrand available in more than 24 individual flavors and varieties, from the original cheddar to peanut-butter-filled sandwich crackers and crispy rounds. At the end of that year Goldfish sales in the United States were $168.5 million, making it the number two snack-cracker brand behind Nabisco’s Ritz crackers. But despite its ranking the Goldfish brand was slipping; in 2004 sales of the crackers dipped 8.3 percent from the previous year.
To lift its iconic brand out of the doldrums, Pepperidge Farm, a division of the Campbell Soup Company, looked beyond its agency of record—Young & Rubicam Advertising in New York—for creative help. The company charged BrightHouseLive, a small Atlantabased agency known for its unique approach to marketing and advertising, with developing a clever new marketing campaign for the Goldfish brand. BrightHouseLive created a television-focused campaign that featured an animated goldfish character named Finn. The campaign, which began in January 2005, also included in-store and online marketing and new packaging for the Goldfish crackers. A budget for the campaign was not announced, but according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, a unit of the United Kingdom–based market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres, in 2003 Pepperidge Farm spent $16.3 million on advertising for its Goldfish brand, a figure that was almost unchanged from its spending in 2002.
The new campaign, as well as its spokescharacter, Finn, seemed to resonate with consumers and helped increase sales of Goldfish crackers by about 5 percent within several months of its launch. Media insiders also praised the campaign, using a variety of adjectives to describe Finn, from lovable and funny to spunky and irreverent. Additionally the Campbell Soup Company credited the campaign and its spokescharacter with boosting Pepperidge Farm’s sales in 2005.

According to its website, Pepperidge Farm’s humble beginnings in 1937 were in the kitchen of Margaret Rudkin, the mother of three children. To ease the allergies of one of her children, the industrious mom began baking bread for her family that contained none of the preservatives or artificial ingredients found in commercially baked bread. Her efforts in the kitchen soon evolved into a small business named for the family farm in Connecticut: Pepperidge Farm. The first product, whole-wheat bread, gained in popularity with consumers and in the 1940s, as the business grew, the line was expanded to include oatmeal bread, dinner rolls, and stuffing mix. The peripatetic Rudkin also added to the product line by collecting recipes during her international travels, including European-style cookies that she discovered while traveling in Belgium in the 1950s. In 1961 the Campbell Soup Company acquired Pepperidge Farm. The following year Goldfish crackers were introduced after Rudkin discovered the snack cracker during a trip to Switzerland and returned with the recipe and permission to market it.
Ogilvy & Mather had served as the Pepperidge Farm ad agency for 40 years. In 1995 it resigned from the Pepperidge Farm and Goldfish crackers account, reportedly because of a business conflict, and agency Saatchi & Saatchi/New York took over the account. When a smiling face was added to the original goldfish in 1997, ‘‘Smiley’’ the Goldfish icon was born. Saatchi & Saatchi created the accompanying tagline, ‘‘The snack that smiles back.’’ In 1998, following a consolidation by the brand’s parent company, Campbell Soup, Young & Rubicam Advertising in New York won the Goldfish account. The agency introduced a new campaign for Goldfish crackers in 2003 that included the theme song ‘‘Jingle for Goldfish.’’ The campaign, which targeted kids 8 to 12 years old, featured two scruffy, longhaired musicians playing acoustic guitars and singing the jingle. Television spots placed the singing duo in a variety of settings, including on a school bus and in a classroom. At the request of Pepperidge Farm, Atlantabased BrightHouseLive joined the team in 2004.
BrightHouseLive created an updated campaign for
Goldfish crackers that featured a new animated spokescharacter, Finn the goldfish. The campaign was released in January 2005.

Any parent, babysitter, or other person who had ever quieted a fussy toddler with a cup of Goldfish crackers could appreciate the value of the tasty fish-shaped treat. But with the new campaign featuring Finn, a personable animated goldfish, the goal was to help create an even closer bond between the popular Pepperidge Farm brand and the children who enjoyed Goldfish crackers. As an added benefit, the clever spots connected with the adults who purchased the product. The animated Finn also was designed to continue Goldfish crackers’ appeal to tweens—kids 8 to 12 years old—and teens who had been given the fish-shaped crackers as toddlers but had perhaps stopped eating them in favor of other snacks. To further reach its target market, Pepperidge Farm introduced a Goldfish website,, that enabled older kids to go online and play games featuring Finn. The site also offered a variety of activities that parents or caregivers could play with kids aged three to five years old, such as determining how many goldfish crackers tall the child was. In addition, new packaging (the milkcarton box was replaced with a bag similar to what was used for other products in the line) added to the appeal of the brand for consumers of all ages.

In the snack-cracker wars, flavor, as always, was paramount, but in the early 2000s part of the battle was about the shape of the cracker. Pepperidge Farm’s fishshaped crackers were near the top of the list, with 98 percent of Americans surveyed saying that they recognized and were familiar with Goldfish crackers. Nabisco, which claimed one of the top spots in the snack-cracker market with its Ritz brand, went one step too far in its competition with Pepperidge Farm when it introduced its own fish-shaped crackers in 1998. Nabisco’s new crackers were planned as a tie-in to the Nickelodeon television network’s program CatDog. The new crackers resulted in a lawsuit, pitting Nabisco against Pepperidge Farm. The latter alleged that Nabisco’s new crackers infringed on its Goldfish brand trademark. In 2000 a federal court upheld Pepperidge Farm’s claim and ordered Nabisco to discontinue production of its fish-shaped cracker. Later in 2000 Kraft Foods acquired the Nabisco brand for $18.9 billion. While Nabisco’s Ritz cracker brand claimed the number one spot in the snack-cracker market at the end of 2004, with $232.6 million in annual U.S. sales, the company was still looking for a niche in the shaped-cracker market. Nabisco introduced dinosaurshaped puffed crackers under its Ritz brand in 2005. The new Ritz Dinosaur crackers were created in direct response to Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers and targeted the same young consumers and their parents. In 2005 the Kellogg Company introduced its own character-shaped cracker under its Keebler Sunshine cracker brand, Cheez-It. Rather than a fish or prehistoric creature, however, Keebler Sunshine’s new crackers were shaped like the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants and directly targeted the kids who munched on Ritz Dinosaur and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. Targeting an older audience, in 2004 Kellogg introduced Twisterz, another variation on its Cheez-It crackers. The new shape, a twisted cylinder rather than the traditional square, was launched in time for the end of college basketball season and included combination flavors designed to please college-age consumers: Cheddar & More Cheddar, Hot Wings & Cheesy Blue, and Cool Ranch & Cheddar. The new product launch was supported by a marketing campaign created by Leo Burnett/Chicago and continued the brand’s tagline, ‘‘Get your own box.’’ With $140.1 million in sales, the Cheez-It cracker brand ranked fourth in the snack-cracker market at the end of 2004.

Although New York–based Young & Rubicam Advertising remained the agency of record for Goldfish crackers and other Pepperidge Farm brands, in 2004, when Pepperidge Farm wanted to put a different spin on the advertising for the fish-shaped cracker and update the brand, it partnered with BrightHouseLive, an agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. BrightHouseLive had opened its doors in 2003 but had quickly earned a reputation for devising unusual advertising campaigns. The creative idea developed by the agency was a primarily television campaign that featured an animated goldfish named Finn. A specific budget for the campaign was unavailable, but according to a report in Adweek, in 2004 Pepperidge Farm spent approximately $14 million from January through September on advertising for the Goldfish cracker brand.
Prior to the creation of the campaign Pepperidge Farm devoted more than one year to conducting market research about Goldfish crackers. Included were interviews with mothers and children to determine what the brand meant to consumers. The company also worked with Character, a leading character-development agency within the film industry, to help establish the personality of the new spokescharacter, Finn.
For the campaign BrightHouseLive created a series of four 30-second and three 15-second television spots. The initial two 30-second spots, which were first aired in January 2005, highlighted Goldfish crackers’ cheddarflavored variety. Subsequent spots featured the brand’s Flavor Blasted and Sandwich Snackers varieties. Each spot showed Finn interacting with other Goldfish crackers as he made plans to help protect them from being eaten by hungry humans reaching for a snack. Finn warned, ‘‘To avoid being eaten, you’ve got to avoid the bowl, avoid the baggies. Cool?’’ One spot had Finn’s advice being ignored by the other Goldfish crackers. As the crackers laughed and jumped into a bowl on a kitchen counter, a person reached into the bowl and took a handful of the crackers. A voice-over stated: ‘‘Tasty Goldfish crackers, baked with real cheddar cheese. It’s a wonder they’re not extinct.’’ Finn sighed and returned to the package to try again to warn the remaining Goldfish crackers about how to avoid becoming a snack for humans. The spot ended with Finn exclaiming, ‘‘So much for fish being brain food.’’
In addition to television spots, the campaign included in-store advertising and Internet promotions on a new website for the product that featured games and activities for kids to play alone or with their parents. As part of a brand update, the company designed new packaging for the crackers. In an interview reported in Business Wire prior to the release of the campaign, Pepperidge Farm’s vice president of youth snacks, Steve White, said that, by bringing to life the familiar goldfish as the spokescharacter Finn, ‘‘we feel confident that kids of all ages are going to love the character as much as they love the snack.’’

Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers could be found almost everywhere, from the lunch boxes of elementary school kids to strategic placement in the movie Christmas with the Kranks. But when the fish-shaped cracker appeared on the cover of a new novel, the waters got choppy. The book, Little Children by Tom Perrotta, was about what happened in a suburban neighborhood when a convicted child molester moved in. To the dismay of Pepperidge Farm, featured on the cover of the novel were Goldfish crackers. The book’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, had failed to get permission to use the crackers on the cover, so the book cover got a makeover: the Goldfish crackers swimming across the front of the book were replaced with chocolate-chip cookies.

At the time of the new campaign’s 2005 launch, Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers were among the world’s most popular snack crackers, with American consumers devouring more than 85 billion Goldfish crackers annually. Within six months of the start of the campaign Pepperidge Farm reported that sales of Goldfish crackers were up more than 5 percent. Parent company Campbell Soup also noted the success of the campaign in its thirdquarter report for the period that ended May 2005. The report stated, ‘‘Sales of ‘Pepperidge Farm Goldfish’ snack crackers experienced good gains due to continued momentum of the base brand and the favorable impact of new advertising featuring the new animated character, ‘Finn.’ ’’ Besides resonating with consumers and spurring sales, the campaign was well received by media insiders. Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Lewis Lazare described Finn as a lovable advertising icon that was ‘‘funny and irreverent’’ with ‘‘spunk and soul.’’


Calvin Klein Cosmetics Company, a subsidiary of Coty, marketed fragrances under the name of Calvin Klein and cK. In August 1996 Paulanne Mancuso, CEO and president of Calvin Klein Cosmetics, announced the arrival of the latest cK unisex fragrance, cK be. The sequel to the company’s extremely successful cK one, cK be was described as a ‘‘raceless, genderless, ageless, and shared statement.’’ Each Calvin Klein ad campaign had its own characteristic image and its own particular target market. While the ads for cK one, Calvin Klein’s first unisex fragrance, portrayed groups of young, multicultural, mostly androgynous urban men and women, the ‘‘cK be’’ campaign featured an intimate and raw close-up of the individuals within the cK one groups. According to Mancuso, ‘‘The ‘cK be’ campaign pulls you into these people’s lives.’’
There were several similarities in the marketing of cK one and cK be, but the Calvin Klein marketers went further in launching cK be. The advertising of cK one involved images of sharing, groups, and similarities, whereas that of cK be was based on the idea of having the freedom to express oneself while living among a group and about the values and the lifestyles of the generation being portrayed. Whereas cK one was billed as ‘‘a fragrance for a man or a woman,’’ cK be was described as ‘‘the new fragrance for people.’’ The ads, which were the creation of Calvin Klein’s in-house advertising agency, CRK Advertising, were shot by the photographer Richard Avedon. He featured both well-known and unknown subjects in the commercials and black-and-white portraits. The portraits were paired with ‘‘be’’ statements such as ‘‘Be good. Be bad. Just be’’ and ‘‘Be shy. Be bold. Just be.’’ Some magazines ran multipage ads in which the first page was all black with the statement ‘‘to be’’ printed in white. The next page or two contained only black-and-white portraits, while the last page, which also was black, had the words ‘‘or not be’’ printed in white. The last page was also accompanied by a portrait and a pull-apart scented tab. Avedon took care to portray his models as real, imperfect people. He had the models look directly into the camera as if they were speaking revealingly and intimately about themselves. Most of the models were unusual looking, with many having tattoos and body piercings, and some appeared unkempt. In short, they did not fit the fashion industry’s idea of all-American beauty, the type that usually graced slick magazine ads. Perhaps the most recognizable spokesperson for the ‘‘cK be’’ campaign was the model Kate Moss, who bared all of her blemishes and freckles while she also bared her soul. The photograph of Stacey McKenzie emphasized unforgettable lips, freckles, and hair. Other subjects included Theo Kogan, a member of the alternative band Lunachicks; Jason Olive, a popular African American model; and Vincent Gallo, a musician, actor, and writer and director.
The text of the ads was equally provocative. The guitarist Billy White announced, ‘‘I find whatever’s in my mind is better kept up there. You know what I mean?’’ In one of the longer ads for cK be a young man told viewers, ‘‘You could get hurt. You could get sick. You could do all these things, and if you don’t have intimate relationships that are strong, you’re really alone. But alone is something I know how to do. Intimacy comes and goes. Alone is forever. Be single. Be plural. Just be.’’ The androgynous female Felix N’Yeurt proclaimed, ‘‘I never have to wait in line for the bathroom.’’

Calvin Klein, president and chief executive of Calvin Klein, Inc., said that he first found a fragrance and then created an image to fit it—‘‘It all starts with the scent.’’ If a company wanted to develop and sell a new fragrance, it contacted several manufacturers. When the desired scent was formulated, a national campaign was introduced to create the image the company’s marketing specialists believed would best sell the product. According to Rudy Detz, president of Creative Fragrances Manufacturing, ‘‘Without the images associated with brand recognition, the perfume that sells for $150 an ounce simply wouldn’t.’’ Detz added, ‘‘No one just goes shopping for perfume. They go as a response to the national ads and will ask specifically for a brand.’’ A specific image had already been created with the campaign for cK one, and after the perfume had been on the market for a time, Calvin Klein Cosmetics was able to learn a great deal about the social values, attitudes, and consumer habits of Generation Xers. Marketers knew exactly what to do and where to go when it was time to launch cK be. The cK be fragrance was developed by Givaudan-Roure, with Ann Gottliebas consultant. The fragrance was described by Klein as sensual, sexy, and personal. In the fragrance industry scents were defined by what were called top, middle, and bottom notes, which were wrapped in a ‘‘peace accord.’’ cK be’s top note included bergamot, juniper berry, mandarin, mint, and lavender; its middle note was a blend of light spices, magnolia, and peach; and its bottom note was sandalwood with opoponax and tonka bean. According to the company, ‘‘cK be contains an exclusive peace accord, made up of clean white musks, that travel throughout the fragrance, wrapping all three notes in sheer sensuality.’’
Many of Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns were controversial. One of his most memorable featured the model Brooke Shields, who, while photographed in various poses wearing Calvin Klein jeans, stated that nothing came between her and her Calvin’s. Some of the company’s ads were even characterized as ‘‘kiddy porn’’ or as ‘‘heroin chic.’’ In contrast, some Calvin Klein ad campaigns portrayed happier, wholesome types. Ads for the Calvin Klein fragrance Eternity portrayed a young family, and those for the men’s fragrance Contradiction focused on a virile 26-year-old man with three children. The women’s version of Contradiction used the clean-cut model Christie Turlington and the caption ‘‘She is always and never the same.’’
Those who criticized the cK image as one that promoted ‘‘skankiness’’ may not have realized that symbols of Generation Xers such as tattoos (other than the hearts and butterflies of the 1960s), body piercing (other than ears), and Dr. Martens had practically become mainstream. Advertisers knew how to seduce someone in their target market, and one did not have to be a practicing addict to look like one. It was all about image.

People over age 40 tended to use classic fragrances or to use a fragrance they had been using for years, but people between 25 and 40 were more experimental and tended to buy a variety of fragrances. An even younger crowd, those between 18 and 25, tended to buy newer fragrances and spent most of their money on themselves. While cK one targeted this younger group, market research showed that the fragrance was purchased by people as young as 12 and as old as 50. The hip urban image was clearly attractive to a wide age group. Nonetheless, marketers narrowed the target group for cK be to those between 18 and 29 and tailored its ad campaign accordingly. According to Klein, ‘‘The whole idea of the cK fragrances stems from Generation X, or people who think that way, who have a young attitude.’’
Marketers knew that there were always groups of potential consumers outside a specific target market. Perhaps cK be would be attractive to those who were ‘‘earth-conscious,’’ for example. The bottle was made of recyclable glass, aluminum, and plastic, and the exterior packaging was constructed of 100 percent recycled fibers. For those who were attracted to an androgynous image, the store displays were no-frill. In both the men’s and women’s cosmetic areas cK be was displayed on freestanding shelves, not behind a counter, making it highly accessible. Mimi Avins, fashion editor of the Los Angeles Times, suggested that the cK be image might be attractive to feminists and to former members of the counterculture, such as the hippies of the 1960s. Contrary to critics of cK images, Avins wrote, ‘‘Their subtext is the perfect antidote to the mendacity of the infuriatingly successful, The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right (Warner, 1996). If the lessons of that backward manual for mentally impaired Cosmo girls were distilled into cK be’s haiku, it would read, ‘Be fake. Be manipulative. Be gamey. Don’t just be.’ The Rules advises desperate women to hide behind a false image of perfection for as long as they can hold the pose. The cK be confessions champion honesty, an appropriate tack in this age of full disclosure . . . The generation that once didn’t trust anyone over 30 is now skeptical of anyone who clings to an image that’s too squeaky clean.’’

In 1995 Americans spent $5 billion on fragrances. Approximately 60 percent of the market was in women’s fragrances, with the remaining in men’s, but it was women who purchased the majority of all scents. It was estimated that more than a hundred new fragrances were introduced every year, with advertisers spending millions of dollars on a new scent before it ever hit the retail market. There were classic scents such as Chanel No. 5, Joy by Jean Patou, Arpege by Lanvin, and Shalimar by Geurlain, all of which had been around for years and did not need aggressive advertising. Some fragrances could be purchased only at certain exclusive retail stores, while other could be found at department stores and at dutyfree shops. Still others were sold in drugstores, supermarkets, and discount stores. The points of purchase often reflected exclusivity, trendiness, and price. cK be had an introductory budget of $20 million, compared to cK one’s $17-18 million, which may have given it the largest budget for any of the so-called prestige fragrances introduced in 1996. The introductory budget for Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion, for example, was between $4 million and $6 million. Other prestige fragrances introduced at the same time included Ocean Dream by Giorgio Beverly Hills and Cosby Estee Lauder. Some consumers may have been confused by the fact that, at the time cK be was launched, Bebe also introduced its new fragrance, called 2be. Like Calvin Klein, other clothing designers such as Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Tommy Hilfiger were also introducing fragrances for both men and women, often to go along with a line of apparel. Also riding on the designer fragrance bandwagon were apparel stores such as Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, and even Eddie Bauer, all of which had introduced fragrances with their own particular images. What was new about the cK fragrance line was that the same scent was marketed for both men and women.

Even before cK be was in stores, teaser ads appeared on billboards, on the sides of buses, and on bus shelters. Other outdoor advertising included images projected onto a surface comprised of a thin mist of water (hydroillumination) and the world’s largest air banner, which was flown over selected beaches during the 1996 Labor Day weekend.
During the launch period cK be scent strips were put in a variety of magazines popular with young women, including Cosmopolitan, Vogue, YM, and W, and in magazines read mostly by men, including GQ and Playboy. The scent strips were also put in magazines like Vanity Fair, which had a balance of male and female readership, and in magazines like Spin, Vibe, Paper, and Ray Gun, which had a large young male and female readership. In total, cK be was advertised in 48 publications. About a month or so before the fragrance was due to be stocked in stores, full-page ads depicting the brand concepts of individuality and freedom began to appear in magazines. There were also 30-second radio spots, and billboards and posters appeared in some 15 markets. In September 1996 the Avedon commercials debuted during the season premieres of several television shows popular with the target market, including The X-Files, Friends, Melrose Place, and Suddenly Susan.
Perhaps the most significant marketing strategy was an innovative promotional deal between Calvin Klein Cosmetics and Ticketmaster. Calvin Klein’s Mancuso thought that ‘‘taking the scent to where these guys live’’ was an effective way to reach their target market. Ads for cK be were printed on the backs of tickets and in Live, the Ticketmaster magazine. Both the tickets and their envelopes were scented with cK be, with 9 million tickets being been sold during September and October 1996 alone. Another innovative departure from the traditional scent strips found in magazines was the distribution of 4 million wristbands with resealable fragrance strips. In addition, 3 million sample vials of cK be were attached to magnets and distributed at various events, concerts, and stores. To attain additional direct contact with the target market, Calvin Klein Cosmetics helped sponsor, along with Tower Records and Rolling Stone magazine, a 15-day nationwide tour featuring three of Capitol Records’ newest alternative bands—The Figgs, Smoking Popes, and Jimmy Eat World.

Attacks on various aspects of Calvin Klein campaigns were not uncommon, with the charges often centering on the images used in the ads. There were even anti-Calvin Klein websites on the Internet. Nevertheless, his fragrances, fashion apparel, and home fashions remained among the most popular brands.

cK be was the most successful of all fragrances launched in 1996, and it did well both in the U.S. and in global markets. It was expected to generate $30 million during the first season but actually generated $45 million. Further, cK be placed in the number 10 spot among all fragrance brands in 1996. In 1997, however, cK be ranked number 21 and by mid-1998 had dropped to number 51. In addition to having success in sales, the Calvin Klein marketers continued to impress the fragrance industry and consumers with their use of provocative advertising.

Monday, April 21, 2008


In the mid-1990s, with the emergence of new juices, fruit drinks, iced teas, coffee drinks, bottled waters, and soft drinks, Californians were drinking less milk every year. Milk consumption per capita in California had dropped 6 percent between 1987 and 1992. Before 1993 most of California’s dairy advertising was funded either by the National Dairy Board (an organization of dairy farmers) or by the government-run California Milk Advisory Board. Together the two spent an estimated $13 million to promote the statewide consumption of dairy products. The budget was meager compared with those of other beverage companies. Dairy farmers could not compete with titans such as PepsiCo, Inc., and the Coca-Cola Company. The latter spent $100 million in 1992 to advertise just one of its brands, Coca-Cola Classic. Realizing that the dairy industry needed outside assistance, the California Department of Food and Agriculture formed the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) in 1993. A few months later the CMPB released its ‘‘Got Milk?’’ campaign.
The ad agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners (GS&P) created ‘‘Got Milk?’’ with the CMPB’s $23 million annual budget. Previous campaigns had been aimed at people who did not consume milk, but the agency’s research led it to target a different audience: people who were already milk drinkers. It concluded that ‘‘milk is usually consumed with something else, and that the only time people really think about milk is when they’ve run out of it.’’ The print, television, radio, and billboard campaign debuted on October 29, 1993, with a television spot titled ‘‘Aaron Burr.’’ The spot featured a history scholar who lost a radio trivia contest because his mouth was full of a peanut-butter sandwich and he was out of milk. ‘‘Got Milk?’’ continued for more than a decade and included television spots parodying steroid abuse in Major League Baseball and aliens that abducted cows for their milk.
Awards given to the first spot foretold the campaign’s eminent success. ‘‘Aaron Burr’’ garnered three Gold Clios, the Grand Prix Clio for Commercial of the Year, one Gold EFFIE, and one Silver Lion at the 1994 Cannes International Advertising Festival. One year after the campaign began, milk sales in California had increased 7 percent.

According to the California Milk Advisory Board, from 1980 to 1993 annual milk consumption in California dropped from 30 to 24.1 gallons of milk per person. Before the formation of the CMPB the two leading entities that advertised dairy products in California were the National Dairy Board, an organization of dairy farmers that spent an estimated $2 million annually on television commercials, and the California Milk Advisory Board, which was formed in 1969 by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to promote dairy products. In 1992 the latter spent an estimated $11 million to advertise milk and other dairy products. One of its most memorable campaigns was ‘‘Milk. It Does A Body Good,’’ created by the ad agency McCann-Erickson in the 1980s. Despite such efforts, milk was losing business to larger beverage makers, and eventually the state intervened. The California Department of Food and Agriculture established the California Milk Processor Board in February 1993. The fledgling CMPB was allocated $23 million for an advertising campaign. Jeff Goodby, the cochairman of the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, helped win CMPB’s account by offering a compelling explanation for most consumers’ need for milk. He suggested building a campaign around his theory that the only time consumers really wanted milk was when they had run out of it. Goodby then challenged his agency’s creatives to develop stories of people who needed milk more than others. He suggested that, as a guideline, they use Steven Spielberg’s 1971 thriller Duel, in which a malevolent truck driver hunted down a business commuter. ‘‘Imagine that truck was pursuing another semi, cutting it off and ramming it from behind,’’ Goodby told his team, according to Adweek. ‘‘When the camera pulled back, you saw it was a cookie truck chasing a milk truck and the driver of the cookie truck had his mouth full of cookies and nothing to drink.’’
The guideline catalyzed a campaign titled ‘‘Got
Milk?,’’ in which actors were featured in humorous predicaments that resulted from their need to wash down food with milk. ‘‘We’re going to jolt Californians out of their milk malaise,’’ Jeff Manning, executive director of the CMPB, announced in the news service Business Wire days before the campaign was released. ‘‘Our focus is on action, not just attitude change. Increasing milk consumption at home is our only objective.’’

GS&P market research used two key studies in different phases of this campaign: a 1993 MARC continuous telephone survey of a representative sample of the population in California, and a qualitative study of focus groups and one-on-one interviews led by GS&P. Other research included a national Nielsen household panel, from which California data were extracted. This study provided inhome scanner systems for participants to record their grocery buying from all kinds of food outlets. Additionally, Gallup conducted a tracking study based on daily telephone interviews designed to record milk consumption habits statewide. The Gallup study reported that three major reasons that people were drinking less milk were perceptions that milk was high in fat, that it was a children’s drink, and that milk was boring compared with other drinks, especially sodas. The Gallup study also found that many Californians believed that they should drink more milk.
Previous campaigns had tried to stop the decline by portraying milk as cool, fun, and cutting-edge, much like advertising for sodas. As GS&P put it, campaigns for milk ‘‘had lively jingles, and healthy looking people with lustrous hair, perfect teeth and fine muscle definition [who] sang [about] it, jogged with it, and danced with it.’’ GS&P decided that previous advertising had been aimed at the wrong people. A CMPB study found that 70 percent of Californians used milk frequently. The agency concluded that most of the past advertisements had been targeted at the 30 percent of people who were not using any milk or who were using it less than the average person. GS&P decided to aim its campaign at the 70 percent who were ignored by the earlier campaigns, convincing them to use milk more frequently or to drink it in larger amounts. A representative of the ad agency explained, ‘‘persuading people who are not doing something to do it (whether again or for the first time) tends to be harder than persuading people who are already doing it to do it more often.’’
GS&P’s research showed that 88 percent of milk was consumed at home. It was typically used as an accompaniment to food, and the food was frequently considered of more interest than the milk. Milk was rarely the center of attention, as previous ads had portrayed it. Backing up Jeff Goodby’s original suggestion, the research concluded that ‘‘the only time people even think about milk at all is when they don’t have any.’’ When focus-group participants (who had not had any milk for a week) got together, they reported that they usually did not think about milk at all but that ‘‘they had been painfully aware of it in its absence over the previous few days. And that absence had been all the more painful and frustrating in the context of certain foods,’’ such as peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, cereal, brownies, and chocolate-chip cookies. These foods were not the same without milk. One side effect of the research was that the participants experienced ‘‘powerful cravings’’ when they talked about the foods that went with milk. Some later said that on the way home from the focus groups they went shopping to buy some of the craved foods.

In 1993 milk was competing against a beverage industry crowded with juices, fruit drinks, iced teas, bottled waters, and soft drinks. One of milk’s closest competitors was Snapple, a natural tea-based drink that was initially sold in health food stores. The brand was popular among consumers looking for healthier alternatives to soft drinks. Throughout the 1990s Snapple advertised its exotic flavors with its reoccurring spokeswoman the Snapple Lady, who was played by the company’s own employee Wendy Kaufman. An illustration of Kaufman was featured on the bottle of Snapple Orange Tropic; it showed a reposed Snapple Lady wearing a floral dress against a tropical island backdrop. In many of the Snapple TV commercials the Snapple Lady simply answered the letters of real-life Snapple fans. The brand had a serious setback after being purchased by the cereal giant the Quaker Oats Company in December 1994. For two years Quaker Oats released high-budget commercials without the Snapple Lady, hoping to draw customers away from cola giants such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The strategy backfired, and advertising analysts lambasted Quaker Oats for misconstruing Snapple’s brand identity. During Quaker Oats’ two-year control of the brand Snapple sales declined 21 percent. Snapple was finally sold to Triarc Companies in 1997, and that year the Snapple Lady resurfaced as the brand’s spokeswoman.
Throughout the 1990s the slogan ‘‘Got Milk?’’ grew more popular than slogans used by the competition. Pepsi advertised its flagship beverage, Pepsi, with a $500 million campaign titled ‘‘Generation Next,’’ created by the ad agency BBDO New York in 1997. The world’s largest soft-drink manufacturer, the Coca-Cola Company, spent $500 million on just its sporting-event advertisements in 1996. Despite the competition’s deep pockets, ‘‘Got Milk?’’ proved more recognizable to consumers throughout the decade. According to the U.S. Newswire, 9 out of 10 Americans could identify the phrase in 2003.

There were three objectives to the ‘‘Got Milk?’’ campaign:
to change the public’s behavior regarding milk; to create the idea of ‘‘milk occasions’’ by associating the product with certain foods; and to curb the decline in sales by convincing people to buy milk more often and in larger quantities. Changing behavior, in addition to attitudes, was done with carefully placed media. A consumption strategy focused on coordinating the appropriate food with the time of day that a commercial was aired (for example, a cereal commercial in the morning or late at night), because most milk drinking occurred at home. The campaign’s first spots aired on October 29, 1993. ‘‘Aaron Burr,’’ one of the 60-second debut spots, featured a man eating a peanut-butter sandwich and listening to a radio trivia contest. When the DJ asked, ‘‘Who shot Alexander Hamilton?’’ the man looked at the portrait on his wall that showed Burr and the bullet he had used to kill Hamilton. Because he was out of milk the history buff garbled, ‘‘Aaawwon Buuuhh,’’ with a mouth full of peanut butter. The spot ended with the ‘‘Got Milk?’’ tagline. In 1997 the campaign included a series of black-and-white spots set in the fictional town of Drysville, where town officials had enforced a prohibition of milk. In 2002 the CMPB sparked media attention when the organization promised to donate heavily to the school board of the first Californian town that changed its name to ‘‘Got Milk?’’ None of the towns petitioned changed their names. The campaign then parodied Major League Baseball steroid abuse with a series of spots that featured athletes using milk as a performanceenhancement substance. After baseball authorities requested that the spots be stopped, ‘‘Got Milk?’’ advertised the high-calcium benefits of milk. In 2006 the campaign shifted into a humorous alien theme with spots featuring cows that had been abducted by aliens in search of milk.
GS&P intended to create a desire for the ‘‘complementary food item, then milk consumption would follow.’’ The agency fashioned a kind of deprivation strategy, showing complementary food with no milk. Taking the milk away ‘‘provides the blow that links the action to a viewer’s own refrigerator. The message is: go to the refrigerator, check the milk, make sure you have enough, if there isn’t enough go and buy some, and maybe even have some right now.’’ The ad agency heard focus-group anecdotes of eating complementary foods without milk to help them come up with creative ideas based on common, real-life experiences—‘‘truths,’’ as the creative team said, ‘‘that could then be dramatized to make them more impactful.’’

According to the ad agency and the CMPB, the original objectives of the campaign were exceeded. Bruce Horowitz of the Los Angeles Times wrote in May 1994, ‘‘Since the ad campaign began . . . it has developed a nearcult following.’’ In the first three months the effort reached a 60 percent aided recall level. MARC reported that ‘‘Got Milk?’’ had overtaken the ‘‘long-running ‘Does a Body Good’ campaign in top-of-mind awareness by mid-1994.’’
The campaign objective to change behavior and increase milk consumption was also met. Nielsen panels found that household penetration had increased from 70 percent in 1993 to 74 percent in 1995. The Nielsen household panel results showed that, except for the first two months of the campaign, milk consumption in California increased over the previous year, while it declined nationally—the reverse of the situation before the campaign began.
By 1994 the sales decline reported by California milk processors in 1993 had been halted. According to Nielsen scanner data, California milk sales increased 7 percent from 1993 to 1994, while national sales figures were unchanged. A GS&P report noted that sales grew by 13.5 million gallons, or $34 million. The 3.5 percent decrease in 1993 sales, together with the 1994 percentages, represented ‘‘a swing of 5.3 percent, or 40 million gallons, or $100 million dollars.’’ The ‘‘Got Milk?’’ campaign made its mark in advertising by collecting nearly every industry award, including multiple Clio awards, several EFFIEs, a number of gold ADDY awards, a Silver Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, and a David Ogilvy Research Award. According to GS&P, a 1999 national survey revealed that awareness for the tagline ‘‘Got Milk?’’ was 12 times greater than the slogan for Pepsi, 6 times greater than the sports drink Gatorade’s tagline ‘‘Life’s a sport. Drink it up,’’ and 4 times greater than Coke’s slogan ‘‘Enjoy.’’ Jeff Manning, executive director of the CMPB, explained in a 2003 issue of Brandweek, ‘‘A brand’s strength and power comes from the immovable belief that it will live forever. Start acting on that belief and every decision, every idea, every waking moment begins to take focus and direction. The same holds true for a campaign or a tagline. ‘Got Milk?’ will live forever because we, the dairy industry, will it so. Not very scientific, but true nonetheless.’’ In 2003 the CMPB reported that the campaign had a 97 percent awareness rate in California.

Perhaps the best indicator of the campaign’s effectiveness was Dairy Management, Inc.’s decision to take the California ‘‘Got Milk?’’ campaign nationwide in 1995, with an $80 million media spend. The organization, which promoted dairy products on behalf of America’s dairy producers, paid the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) to use the campaign, and the California group put the money back into media. SMI, Chicago, measured the national campaign and found that its success mirrored that of the CMPB.


In an effort to promote the state’s dairy products and to deal with its growing milk surplus, the CaliforniaMilk Advisory Board (CMAB) established the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign in 1982. With the creation of the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ label, the active marketing of the state’s cheese began. During the first campaign, which used the tagline ‘‘California cheese is great cheese,’’ California surpassedWisconsin as the leadingU.S. dairy state and jumped into the number two spot in the production of cheese. In 1995 ‘‘It’s the Cheese’’ was introduced as the new tagline. The ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign continued to be extremely popular and helped California to close in further on Wisconsin as the national leader in cheese production.
The tagline ‘‘Great cheese comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows come from California’’ was introduced in 2000 with the clear intent to take over the number one spot.
Supported by a $33 million marketing budget, the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign was created by the advertising agency Deutsch LA. Television advertisements first appeared on local stations and then, beginning in December 2003, appeared on national cable channels, where the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign would eventually have an audience of more than 500 million viewers. The spots aired during the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls were especially important. Using humor and a sense of fun to convey their message, the television spots portrayed the lives of California cows as being carefree. In ‘‘Ding Dong,’’ for instance, a couple of cows broke into fits of giggles as they played the ‘‘ring-doorbell-and-run’’ trick on their farmer. In addition to television spots there also were radio commercials, ads for buses and bus shelters, and outdoor billboards.
The ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign met with incredible success. It was overwhelmingly popular with the public, and it won various advertising awards, including being named by Adweek to its list of Creative Best Spots. The campaign was accompanied by increased sales of California cheese as well as of California dairy products generally. Partly as a result of the campaign’s success, California was able to narrow the gap in cheese production between itself and Wisconsin. In 2004 the production of cheese in California neared 2 billion pounds, which was an increase of 163 million pounds, or 8.9 percent, over 2003. Although cheese production in Wisconsin in 2004 was almost 2.5 billion pounds, the CMAB continued its campaign to help California eventually take the lead.

The CMAB was established in 1969 in an effort by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to promote the state’s high-quality dairy products and to deal with the state’s developing milk surplus. The state was producing 10.8 billion pounds of milk annually by 1975, and in the following years the amount increased dramatically. By 1982 it had become clear that California needed to face the problem of an ever-growing production of milk, which coincided with a declining rate of consumption. With the assistance of the Stanford Research Institute, the CMAB developed the idea that cheese might be a solution to the problem. Because 10 pounds of milk were generally needed to make 1 pound of cheese and because the nation’s rate of cheese consumption was rising, this seemed to be a sensible solution. The ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign was the result. Although the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign began somewhat cautiously, starting with local markets and only slowly expanding nationwide, it quickly gained success. Within a decade of its introduction the campaign had helped make California the biggest dairy state in the United States, surpassing Wisconsin and bringing tremendous revenue to the state. Initially the tagline for the campaign was simply ‘‘California cheese is great cheese.’’ Targeted mostly toward California women between the ages of 25 and 54, the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign represented an attempt to create an emotional connection to products made in the state. To achieve their goals, the advertisements were marked by intelligence and sincerity, along with a sense of humor. In 1995 the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign introduced a new tagline, ‘‘It’s the Cheese.’’ This series of popular ads played on the humorous claim that the real reason people traveled to California was for its cheese. The advertisements used a representation of the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ seal with the tagline, ‘‘It’s the Cheese,’’ next to it. Even the words in the ads were made of cheese. Running from 1995 to 2000, these ads appeared everywhere—on television; in outdoor advertising, including billboards, buses, and bus shelters; in retail stores; and on coupons and other printed materials. The success of the campaign helped to pave the way for the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign, which was introduced in 2000. Like its predecessors, this campaign relied on a combination of humor and love for the state in its marketing of California cheese.

With some 60 makers producing more than 250 varieties of cheese, the target market of the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign was diverse. In a breakdown of California cheese production that was done in 2004, the major types were identified as follows: 45 percent mozzarella, 27 percent cheddar, 15 percent Monterey Jack, 4 percent Hispanic style, 3 percent Parmesan, 2 percent provolone, and 4 percent other. This wide variety, which included many higher-priced specialty cheeses, resulted from an extraordinarily diverse consumer base that ranged from ordinary families to individual connoisseurs.
Though the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign, as well as previous campaigns, targeted any consumer of cheese, the primary focus was on women between the ages of 25 and 54. Women in this age range were thought to have slightly higher incomes than other women, and they were more likely to be mothers and, thus, often the grocery shoppers for a household. It was for this reason that television spots were aired more often during daytime programming than during the evening (60 percent versus 40 percent).
While the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign began by focusing on the local market, by the time of the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign the marketing goals had been expanded, and the effort had become national. Thus, the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign promoted California’s cheese far beyond the state’s borders.

Although Wisconsin remained the number one producer of cheese in the United States, California appeared to be catching up. Wisconsin was working hard, however, to keep its number one spot. After California surpassed Wisconsin as the nation’s top dairy producer in 1993, the Wisconsin dairy industry threw additional resources into its cheese industry, including $150 million for the expansion of production facilities. Under the guidance of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, established in 1983, there were continuing efforts to maintain the state’s leading position. Ventures such as the Chef Ambassadors Program, which published recipes calling for the use of various Wisconsin cheeses, were established for this purpose. Advertising campaigns such as ‘‘Where It Comes from Matters,’’ which was launched in 2005, got right to the point, asking customers, ‘‘Why order your cheese from anyplace but Wisconsin?’’ Cheese manufacturers located in other parts of the United States, such as the Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon and Agri-Mark, Inc., in New England, provided smaller-scale competition for California. Tillamook, a co-op owned by 150 Oregon dairy farmers, offered a range of dairy products, including milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, and dry whey. Still, Tillamook’s focus was on cheese, in particular, cheddar, which accounted for 85 percent of the company’s overall production. Agri-Mark, another privately owned co-op of farmers in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York, had sold cheese since its startup in 1916. The co-op’s cheese offerings included both the Cabot and the McCadam brands. Tillamook’s sales in 2003 were $270 million, while Agri-Mark’s were $600 million.

In 2000 ‘‘Great cheese comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows come from California’’ was introduced as the campaign’s new tagline. The tagline proclaimed that happy cows produced great cheese and that, because of the many things that made California great, California cows would, of course, be happy. The campaign, developed by the advertising agency Deutsch LA, began appearing in local television, radio, and print ads as well as in outdoor venues.
Several television spots were aired in rotation. Hailed as funny, clever, and cute, the commercials portrayed cows thinking and acting like humans. California loyalists, the cows affectionately revealed various aspects of life in the state, including the good weather, the beautiful scenery, and even earthquakes. ‘‘Cloud,’’ for example, showed cows fleeing in panic from a tiny cloud in the sky, calling attention to California’s sunny climate. ‘‘Race,’’ which played on the carefree lifestyle of California, highlighted a race between cows, with a couple of bulls looking on. ‘‘Keep your eye on Doris; she’s a rocket out of the gate,’’ said one bull to the other. When the race began, Doris took the lead. ‘‘I’m winning!’’ she exclaimed; ‘‘I’m winning!’’ But when a fresh patch of dandelions, as well as the other runners, distracted her, the race was over. ‘‘We gotta move that finish line closer,’’ said one of the bulls. The spot ended with the ‘‘Great cheese comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows comes from California’’ tagline.
Although they started locally, the advertisements of the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign appeared on national television beginning in December 2003, and they eventually reached the homes of more than 500 million viewers. As part of the national campaign, ‘‘Happy Cows’’ spots aired during both the 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls. There were further promotions in print and on the radio, and retail promotions included in-store coupons and a sampling program. There also were comprehensive public-relations and food-service promotions, as well as promotions through the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ website, which covered the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign in detail. The site even allowed visitors to view a selection of ‘‘Happy Cows’’ television commercials. The total annual budget for the campaign reached $33 million in 2004.

When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) over its ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign, a superior court judge in 2003 sided with the defendant, but only on a technicality. PETA, arguing that the ads wrongfully idealized the lives of dairy cows as being pastoral and peaceful, had sued the CMAB for false advertising. The judge did not rule against PETA on the grounds that the cows were happy. Instead, he cited the fact that the government was exempt from the laws on false advertising that applied to private individuals.

The public loved the ‘‘HappyCows’’ campaign. Consumers from around the United States submitted comments about the ads to the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ website. One Idaho viewer said, ‘‘When your ads come on everything comes to a stop, people run in from different rooms just to watch because they are so wonderful . . . the sheep are adorable, they look just like ours! Too bad we didn’t have you design an ad campaign for Idaho potatoes! Thank you again for giving us a few minutes of pure fun.’’ The ads not only made the general public smile, but they also won numerous advertising awards, including being chosen by Adweek for its list of Creative Best Spots.
The ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign also seemed to spread the word about California cheese and to support the general ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ undertaking. By 1993 California had become the nation’s largest supplier of milk and the largest dairy state overall. A decade later, after the debut of the ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign, milk production in California had increased by another 44 percent, to 36.4 billion pounds per year. Further, by 2004, through the efforts of the CMAB and the ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ program, California was selling 40 percent of its milk production—in the form of cheese, butter, and powdered milk—out of state. In addition, between 1983 and 2004 the production of cheese in California increased by an astonishing 609 percent, seven times the national growth rate. Over this period California had become the second-largest manufacturer and distributor of cheese in the United States. Of course, the eventual goal of the CMAB was to replace longtime leader Wisconsin as the number one state in cheese production, and some strides toward this goal seemed to have been made. For example, in 2004 California was producing 25 percent of all mozzarella cheese in the United States. Being a top cheese producer and distributor had tremendous economic benefits for the state. In 2003 the U.S. cheese industry posted $40 billion in total sales. By 2002 the dairy industry in California was bringing in $35 billion year, approaching the income from the state’s lucrative wine industry, which made $45 billion in that same year. It appeared that California got into the right business at the right time, with a good product supported by an effective advertising campaign. The ‘‘Happy Cows’’ campaign and the remarkable success of ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ not only sparked the interest of cheese lovers across the United States but also gained the attention of academics. In 2005 Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business published a case study of the CMAB’s ‘‘Real California Cheese’’ campaign. The 34-page study, which was created as a teaching study at Columbia, was made available for use in business schools worldwide. As the case study’s author, Michelle Greenwald, put it, ‘‘The growth of the California cheese industry over the past twenty-plus years is nothing short of a tremendous success story.’’


In 1988 California voters passed Proposition 99, a measure that imposed a tax hike on cigarettes and earmarked the revenues thereby generated for antismoking efforts, including statewide media campaigns. The Tobacco Control Section of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) thus pioneered the high-profile, taxpayer-funded, big-budget antismoking advertising efforts that would ultimately become common across the United States. The California campaigns consistently attracted media attention and industry awards, but in 2000 CDHS decided on a change of course for its advertising. Hiring the Los Angeles–based agency Ground Zero, CDHS set itself the task of supplementing its ongoing educational, secondhand smoke, and cessation efforts with a more direct and confrontational assault on the integrity of tobacco companies and their personnel.
Budgeted at $125 million over five years, the Ground Zero work for CDHS first took the form of 2001 television spots as well as outdoor and print ads tagged, ‘‘Do you smell smoke?’’ The television spots featured a fictional tobacco executive named Ken Lane, who was shown disclosing despicable trade secrets in discussions with colleagues. In 2002 Ground Zero crafted a particularly powerful spot aimed at convincing current smokers to quit, and in 2004 the agency introduced its ‘‘Undo’’ theme, which used images of people blowing bubbles instead of smoking, among other arresting visual schemes, as a way of asking Californians to imagine a world without cigarettes.
California continued to post decreases in its adult smoking rates throughout the years that the Ground Zero–crafted antitobacco campaigns ran, building on the declines that had been initiated beginning with Proposition 99. Only Utah boasted fewer smokers per capita among its adult population.

Beginning in 1967, the Federal Communications Commission required television broadcasters to donate airtime to one antitobacco advertiser for every four tobacco commercials that appeared. The antitobacco spots produced in subsequent years by groups such as the American Cancer Society proved extremely effective, and cigarette consumption in America began dropping for the first time in the twentieth century. Tobacco companies thus supported a ban on the television advertising of their own products, since such a move would largely spell the end of donated airtime for antitobacco groups, and since these groups would find it difficult to buy their own time or otherwise place public service spots during peak viewing hours. After the eventual Congressional ban on the television advertising of tobacco products was enacted, and through most of the 1970s and 1980s, antismoking commercials were generally relegated to off-peak hours and were not considered effective. Tobacco companies, meanwhile, devoted their extensive resources to other media and to high-profile sponsorships. The smoking declines initiated in the late 1960s slowed.
The economics of antitobacco advertising began to change dramatically, however, when California voters passed Proposition 99, the California Tobacco Health Protection Act of 1988. The act introduced a new statewide cigarette tax of 25 cents per pack and allocated the resultant revenues to a group of complementary antismoking initiatives, including education programs in California schools, funding for tobacco-related research, and a media campaign. Among the media campaign’s early efforts were spots that pointed out the moral bankruptcy of the tobacco industry; for instance, one commercial showed individual industry executives testifying in a congressional hearing that they did not believe tobacco was addictive. The best-known work in the first decade of California’s media campaign was crafted by the Los Angeles advertising agency Asher/Gould (successively renamed Asher & Partners, Asher/Gal & Partners, and Italia/Gal). Among the agency’s most lauded campaigns was a 1997 series of billboards featuring two cowboys on horseback in imagery that recalled the famous ‘‘Marlboro Man’’ ads. ‘‘I miss my lung, Bob,’’ read the text in one such billboard. ‘‘Bob, I’ve got emphysema,’’ read the text in another.
The California antismoking campaign was the first of its kind and scale in the world, and its success inspired Massachusetts, Florida, and Arizona, among other U.S. states, to embark on similar taxpayer-funded campaigns. CDHS’s approach to antitobacco advertising, as well as its larger strategy for the denormalization of tobacco use, likewise served as a model for such organizations as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Between 1988 and 1999 adult smoking rates in California fell more than 32 percent, and California’s declines in teen smoking well outpaced declines in other states.

CDHS’s 2000–05 antismoking media campaigns ran statewide in California, with the bulk of the messaging and budget devoted to a general market but with supplemental, language- and/or culture-specific commercials designed for Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, African-Americans, and American Indians. CDHS placed great emphasis, through educational programs and other facets of its overall antismoking strategy, on a teenage audience, noting that 88 percent of smokers were introduced to cigarettes before age 18 and that the tobacco industry subtly continued to target teenagers despite legal rulings ordering it to cease doing so. The media campaign did not appeal strictly to teenagers, however. Part of the state’s overall antismoking strategy was to denormalize tobacco use in the culture at large, which would presumably, in both the short and long term, make the activity less appealing to impressionable youngsters. It was especially necessary to spread an antitobacco message to a general audience, CDHS felt, given the tobacco companies’ own concurrent efforts at normalizing their corporate images through court-ordered public-service advertising as well as voluntary image-crafting efforts. Many of the Ground Zero–crafted spots created between 2000 and 2005 focused on showing that tobacco companies, far from being normal businesses, were in fact morally reprehensible, villainous entities. The campaign also featured spots aimed at current smokers, which, in an effort to encourage them to quit, employed hardhitting dramatizations of the dire health risks they were taking by engaging in the habit.

One of the first states to use the California model for battling the tobacco industry’s influence was Massachusetts, whose Department of Health and Safety in 1994 increased taxes on cigarettes and invested the revenues in an ambitious marketing campaign crafted by the Boston advertising agency Houston Herstek Favat. Called ‘‘Truth,’’ the campaign’s television spots, like some of the early California commercials, sought to expose the tobacco companies’ morally compromised business practices. Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of tobacco scion R.J. Reynolds, appeared in one spot providing information about the numerous harmful chemicals in cigarettes. ‘‘Why am I telling you this?’’ Reynolds asked. ‘‘I want my family to be on the right side for a change.’’ Print ads attempted to generate public support for legislative measures aimed at reining in tobacco companies.
In 1998 the state of Florida likewise launched a marketing campaign funded by increased taxes on cigarettes. Created by Miami agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky and named ‘‘Truth’’ (like the Massachusetts campaign), the Florida campaign’s highlights included spots pairing the congressional testimony of tobaccoindustry executives with a sitcom laugh track, as well as spots showing teenagers who phoned tobacco corporations to ask pointed questions such as, ‘‘What is it about Lucky Strike cigarettes that’s lucky? Is it that I might live?’’
Following the 1998 master settlement agreement between four major tobacco companies and 46 U.S. states, which resolved lawsuits filed by state attorneys general, the tobacco companies were required to run their own antismoking advertising. Some critics, however, contended that these campaigns warned against smoking via methods that actually made smoking seem rebellious and therefore attractive to teens. Tobacco companies also took significant voluntary steps to recast their corporate images. Philip Morris Companies, for instance, changed its name to the comparatively nondescript Altria and markedly increased its food brand holdings. Another noteworthy result of the 1998 tobacco settlement was the formation of a public advocacy group with national reach, the American Legacy Foundation (ALF), funded by $1.5 billion of the total $206 billion in settlement money. Beginning in 2000 ALF spent more than $150 million a year on nationwide, antismoking advertising cocreated by Boston’s Arnold Worldwide (which had merged with Houston Herstek Favat) and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The two agencies, leveraging their combined experience on the Massachusetts and Florida campaigns, had formed a team called the Alliance to bid for the ALF account. Unprecedented in scope and budget resources compared to previous antismoking projects, this campaign was, like its Massachusetts and Florida predecessors, also called ‘‘Truth,’’ and it went to previously unexplored inflammatory lengths. One of the Alliance’s first efforts involved filming activist teens piling body bags outside Philip Morris’s corporate headquarters in New York. The resulting spots proved too controversial for the major television networks and were pulled off the air, along with another commercial shot at Philip Morris headquarters, after the tobacco companies involved in the 1999 settlement publicly complained.

In a website companion to its media campaign,, the California Department of Health Services detailed ways in which tobacco companies continued to target minors despite the laws prohibiting them from doing so. CDHS pointed out, for instance, that images of the Marlboro Man, an icon specifically created to appeal to young people, was still, as of 2004, prominently featured in Philip Morris’s advertising. The website cited a 2001 Stanford University study finding that almost half of California’s convenience stores had tobacco advertising materials placed at a height of three feet or lower, at eye level with young children, and that in 23 percent of the state’s convenience stores, cigarettes for sale were located less than six inches away from candy displays. In 2002, CDHS reported, R.J. Reynolds was caught advertising in youth-oriented publications. And in 2003 the Tobacco Enforcement Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General discovered that four different tobacco corporations had run ads in school editions of major U.S. newsweeklies.

CDHS’s August 2000 hiring of Ground Zero for a fiveyear, $125 million advertising effort represented a change of direction for the state’s antismoking campaigns. Like the nationwide ‘‘Truth’’ campaign then getting under way, the Ground Zero work focused more intensely than ever on overt vilification of tobacco companies. The campaign’s television spots broke in early 2001 and ran during prime-time network programming like CBS’s Survivor season finale and the NBC shows ER and The West Wing. Supporting outdoor, print, and online work reinforced the tagline ‘‘Do you smell smoke?’’ which, as Ground Zero’s chairman Jim Smith told Adweek, referred to the premise that ‘‘the tobacco companies use smoke and mirrors, and we’re suggesting maybe you smell smoke, and there’s no smoke without fire.’’ The ‘‘Do You Smell Smoke?’’ television spots provided a documentary-like, fly-on-the-wall look inside the offices of a fictional tobacco company and centered on an amoral executive named Ken Lane, who explained ways in which the tobacco industry duped consumers. In ‘‘Lights,’’ Lane was shown expounding on the fallacious perception that light cigarettes were better than regular cigarettes for one’s health, explaining the manufacturing details that supposedly reduced tar and nicotine but in actuality did not, and marveling at the effectiveness of industry advertising that spread this misconception. A print ad running under the same tagline meanwhile pointed out the tobacco companies’ alleged targeting of children despite the fact that the practice had been outlawed. Showing a young boy standing at a convenience store counter surrounded by numerous tobacco advertisements and transfixed by a large image of the Marlboro man at eye level, the ad’s copy read, ‘‘Kid: 45 inches’’ and ‘‘Poster: 45 inches.’’
Ground Zero supplemented the anti-industry advertising with work that addressed the dangers of secondhand smoke and work that encouraged cessation. One 2002 television spot promoted the latter objective with particular force. Called ‘‘Echo,’’ the spot featured a series of young, healthy-looking smokers who gave common excuses for why they could not quit smoking. Each statement in turn was juxtaposed with a statement from an overtly suffering, but not noticeably older, former smoker. A young man opened the commercial by noting with a smile that he could not ‘‘go more than a few hours without a cigarette,’’ and his statement was followed by that of an emaciated man with tubes in his nose grimly saying, ‘‘I can’t go more than a few feet without the oxygen tank.’’ Similarly a healthy woman explained that she tried to quit smoking but gave up because she gained five pounds; her speech gave way to that of a female cancer patient saying, near tears, ‘‘I’ve lost twenty-five pounds.’’ The spot closed with on-screen text that said, ‘‘Quitting is hard. Not quitting is harder.’’ No strategic changes were made to Ground Zero’s CDHS work until 2004, when the theme ‘‘Undo’’ was applied to the campaign’s television, print, outdoor, and online advertising as a means of asking consumers to visualize a world without smoking. One television spot used the tagline ‘‘Undo tobacco everywhere’’ and images of people in commonplace smoking locations and positions who instead of smoking were blowing bubbles. Another spot, tagged ‘‘Undo the exploitation,’’ returned to the theme of tobacco-executive villainy by equating excellence in the business with a willingness to exploit the most vulnerable of all possible targets, young children. Another 2004 spot, ‘‘Growth,’’ showed tobacco executives in a conference room who began uncontrollably birthing clones from their chests until suit-wearing clones covered the city streets outside the company offices. The image of irrepressible growth intentionally conflated tobacco-industry market gains and cancer, an idea underscored by on-screen text reading, ‘‘The more they grow, the more we die.’’

The 2001 Ken Lane commercials so effectively impugned the integrity of tobacco-industry executives that the tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard filed a lawsuit alleging, as Adweek reported, that the spots ‘‘violated their constitutional rights and had a prejudicial effect on potential jurors in lawsuits related to smoking.’’ The lawsuit was ultimately rejected. ‘‘Echo’’ was voted one of Adweek ’s Best Spots of 2002. California’s adult smoking rates remained lower than those in all other U.S. states except Utah: only 16.2 percent of the California population, as of 2003, were smokers, down from the 1988 rate of 22.8 percent. In 2004 the state’s smoking rate reached a historic low of 15.4 percent, and state public health officer Dr. Richard J. Jackson announced, ‘‘Our messages about the dangers of tobacco use, secondhand smoke and the tobacco industry’s misleading marketing practices are resonating with all Californians.’’ Jackson further noted that California’s smoking-related cancer rates were then declining three times faster than were rates among other Americans and declared that California would continue to spread its antitobacco message as long as tobacco products were sold.

Friday, April 18, 2008


For decades tobacco manufacturers had glamorized smoking through widespread marketing campaigns and promotions, but as the negative health effects of such behavior grew increasingly clear toward the end of the twentieth century, health officials in the United States sought to educate the public about the ills of tobacco. California was the first to organize a statewide advertising and education effort, one that was funded by smokers themselves through a state-legislated cigarette tax. Between 1989, when the campaign first began, and 1997, California spent almost $116 million on antitobacco advertising. Although this was a significant amount, it paled in comparison to the ad budgets of leading tobacco makers, which spent several billion dollars a year on advertising.
In 1997 the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) stepped up its efforts in the antitobacco battle by launching an estimated $67 million, three-year advertising campaign designed to reduce and prevent smoking among youths and adults. The aggressive campaign, developed by Asher & Partners (Asher/Gould Advertising, Inc., until late 1997) of Los Angeles, consisted of television, radio, and print advertising, including billboard ads. Ads geared toward minorities and specific ethnic groups were also included in the campaign. These were created by specialty agencies Imada Wong Communications Group Inc., Valdes Zacky and Associates Inc., and Carol H. Williams Advertising. The following year, in June 1998, the second phase of the three-year effort was launched. The approximately $22 million campaign again consisted of an extensive series of print, television, and radio ads that focused on bringing to light the manipulative marketing practices of the tobacco industry, the dangers of secondhand smoke, and the link between smoking and impotency. This last topic was the focus of one of the best-known television spots of the campaign, ‘‘Gala Event,’’ which suggested to the male audience that smoking could adversely affect their sex lives. The campaign also focused on the increasing popularity of cigars and on the smoke-free bar and restaurant policy that was implemented in the state at the beginning of 1998. Kim Belsh, the director of California’s DHS, explained the overall goal of the campaign in an interview with Daniel Zwerdling of National Public Radio, stating that ‘‘the whole focus of our media campaign is really to de-normalize tobacco use. And de-normalizing tobacco use means changing the perception of tobacco from something that is viewed as acceptable and even glamorous to a more realistic perception of tobacco as dangerous, addictive, and socially unacceptable.’’

In 1988 California voters passed Proposition 99, an initiative that increased the tax on tobacco by 25 cents per pack of cigarettes, with the revenue to be used to fund antitobacco programs and healthcare services for underprivileged residents. In that year about 26.7 percent of Californians were smokers. The percentage declined rapidly as the tax-funded media effort began churning out aggressive advertising, and by 1995 only 16.7 percent of Californians smoked. The rate began to rise, however, when the administration of California governor Pete Wilson diverted $67 million in antitobacco funds in 1994 to pay for failing healthcare projects. In addition, television spots with an anti-industry tone, including one that featured tobacco industry executives testifying before the U.S. Congress that nicotine was not addictive, were discontinued because of pressure from the tobacco industry. Although antitobacco efforts continued, they were toned down both in character and in number, and in 1996, 18.6 percent of California adults smoked. The change in advertising, reported a research team from the University of California at San Francisco, led to an increase in tobacco sales between 1994 and 1998 of more than $1 billion, or an additional 840 million packs of cigarettes. Also alarming were statistics for young smokers. In 1992, according to the DHS, 8.7 percent of Californians aged 12 to 17 smoked. In 1995 the percentage was up to 11.9 percent. A survey conducted by the tobacco research center at the University of California at San Diego found that the percentage of youths aged 17 who were addicted to cigarettes had risen from 9.9 percent in 1993 to 12 percent three years later.
The increase in the number of California smokers, though considerably less than the national population of adult smokers, which hovered around 25 percent, was still cause for alarm among antitobacco activists, and many criticized the Wilson administration. Alan C. Henderson of the American Cancer Society of California said in the Los Angeles Times, ‘‘The Legislature and the governor need to wake up and smell the secondhand smoke. This is an embarrassment to the state that has been the leader in fighting tobacco.’’ In response, the Wilson administration established a three-year contract with Asher & Partners to produce a major media campaign. In 1997, after some delays, the CDHS launched its first new advertising campaign since 1995 as a part of plans to reinvigorate the fight against tobacco. Sandra Smoley, secretary of California’s Health and Welfare Agency, announced in a press release, ‘‘This advertising is some of the most aggressive, hardhitting material that California’s tobacco education media campaign has ever produced . . . These ads prove, once and for all, that this Administration is wholly committed to the anti-tobacco cause.’’

The CDHS aimed its antitobacco advertising toward a number of audiences, but the agency primarily hoped to sway youths, including those who smoked and those who were susceptible to starting. More than 100,000 youths, a study at the University of California at San Diego discovered, took up smoking each year, and one-third of them would die from smoking-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or emphysema. Other studies indicated that it would take most of the addicted youths 16 to 20 years to quit smoking, and that almost 90 percent of smokers picked up the habit before reaching the age of 18. If youths made it past 18 without smoking, chances were high that they would not start. The studies made it glaringly clear to the CDHS that it was necessary to try to prevent teen smoking.
To effectively address youths, who often felt invincible and were not easily persuaded by advertising, it was important, researchers found, to inform them that the tobacco industry was trying to control them. One 1997 ad, ‘‘Voicebox Smoker,’’ featured Debi Austin, a woman who began smoking at the age of 13. The spot, shot when she was 46, showed a hole in her throat where her larynx had been cut out because of her smoking habit. Still, Austin had not quit smoking; she smoked through the hole. She explained in the commercial, ‘‘When I found out how bad smoking was, I tried to stop. Believe me. I wish I could. But I can’t.’’ Belsh, discussed the strategy behind the ad in USA Today, saying, ‘‘You need to push emotional buttons . . . You need to give kids real evidence that they’re being manipulated by the tobacco industry.’’
The CDHS targeted adult smokers with its media campaign as well, with ads focusing not only on the harm inflicted upon the smoker but also on the damage caused to loved ones and others through secondhand smoke. For the 1998 campaign the CDHS tackled two new issues. Because all California bars and taverns became smokefree at the beginning of 1998, ads were deemed necessary to convince disgruntled smokers that this was a positive policy. Another issue the CDHS hoped to spotlight was the link between smoking and impotence. This time the focus was on men between 18 and 30, an age group that had traditionally been resistant to altering smoking habits. As Belsh, explained in the Toronto Globe and Mail, ‘‘Our experience has demonstrated that warning these guys that smoking will affect their health later in life has not been a very effective inducement to quit . . . Maybe warning them about the effects on their sex lives will be more powerful.’’ The problem was not one to be taken lightly, for numerous studies, including the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, had indicated a significant link between smoking and impotence.

The most powerful adversary of the CDHS was the tobacco industry, which consisted of the biggest advertisers in the United States. Philip Morris Companies Inc., the parent company of number one tobacco maker Philip Morris U.S.A., was the third leading U.S. advertiser in 1996 and also in 1997, despite a 5 percent reduction in ad spending. Philip Morris U.S.A., which produced such brands as the top-selling Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, Virginia Slims, and Merit, supplied about half of all the nation’s cigarette shipments. Others included R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. These powerful companies boasted immense advertising coffers and held the advantage of history. Tobacco companies had advertised and marketed their products for decades before the 1970 ban on radio and television cigarette advertising, making a strong and lasting impression among the public. Antitobacco awareness, on the other hand, was still in its infancy.

Not only did the California Department of Health Services and other antitobacco forces have to contend with competition from tobacco manufacturers, but they also battled Hollywood. Many blockbuster movies, including Reality Bites and My Best Friend’s Wedding, featured chain-smoking characters, portrayed by Winona Ryder and Julia Roberts, respectively. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the movie industry for its focus on smoking, with the Los Angeles Daily News quoted her as commenting on Roberts’s character: ‘‘This portrayal of a modern woman so reliant on cigarettes is particularly troubling given that more young women are taking up the deadly habit.’’

The 1998 antitobacco media campaign developed by Asher & Partners consisted of several dozen television, radio, and print/billboard ads, including some borrowed from the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program’s media campaign. Although the dangers of smoking were by then common knowledge in the United States, antitobacco messages were still a hard sell. As Bruce Dundore of Asher & Partners admitted in Adweek, ‘‘It is a very challenging account . . . It’s tough to get people not to buy stuff, especially when it’s a product equated with pleasure.’’ Ads that publicized the implementation of California’s smoke-free policy for restaurants and bars began running in late 1997, and radio and television spots addressing the increased popularity of cigars began to air in the spring of 1998 while the full campaign continued to be developed. The cigar effort centered on the theme ‘‘Cigars, the big new trend in cancer,’’ and the single television spot ‘‘How Many?’’ focused on the amount of nicotine in each cigar. A business suit-clad character named Chad relaxed with a cigar as the narrator questioned him about how many cigarettes he thought might equal the nicotine of one cigar. As he offered guesses, the corresponding number of cigarettes appeared in Chad’s mouth. The narrator finally informed Chad that he would need to smoke more than 70 cigarettes to equal the nicotine in the cigar, and 70 cigarettes were seen stuffed into Chad’s mouth. The spot ended with the narrator asking, ‘‘Need a light, Chad?’’ In June 1998 the full CDHS campaign was launched. ‘‘Gala Event,’’ the television spot that emphasized the link between smoking and impotence, was set at a festive affair. A handsome man in a tuxedo caught the eye of a beautiful woman across the bar, and the two exchanged long gazes as he suavely lit a cigarette. His cigarette suddenly went limp, and the woman was gone. The voice-over explained, ‘‘Now that medical researchers believe cigarettes are a leading cause of impotence, you’re going to be looking at smoking a little differently.’’ The spot then focused on three men smoking cigarettes. An attractive woman sauntered by, and the three men stared after her, only to find their cigarettes going limp. Embarrassed, the men covered their cigarettes or removed them from their mouths. The narrator then asked, ‘‘Cigarettes. Still think they’re sexy?’’ ‘‘For decades, the tobacco industry has tried to link its deadly products with virility and sex appeal,’’ explained Belsh, of the CDHS. ‘‘It’s ironic that medical science shows smoking to be one of the leading causes of male impotence.’’
‘‘Baby Smokers’’ focused on the problems of secondhand smoke and showed photos of young children and infants with lines such as ‘‘Nicholas Steele. Smoking since birth’’ and ‘‘Chris McDonald. Pack-aweek smoker’’ superimposed on the photos to emphasize how a parent’s or guardian’s habits could directly affect children. The tag line read, ‘‘Secondhand smoke is a firstrate killer.’’ ‘‘Waitresses’’ featured various waitresses from restaurants and bars explaining the health hazards they experienced as a result of working in smoke-filled environments. They also voiced their support of the smokefree restaurants and bars policy. ‘‘Ironic Quotes’’ showed a bedridden patient named Aaron. After quoting a tobacco industry executive, who claimed that people did not die from smoking, Aaron stated, ‘‘Let me clear things up for him. My doctor says I have less than one year to live.’’ The tag line read, ‘‘The Tobacco Industry—They can bury the victims, but they can’t bury the truth.’’ A print ad, ‘‘Truth vs. Advertising,’’ featured a circle of 20 cigarette print ads—ads that focused on the glamorous aspects of smoking and led consumers to believe that their lives would be enhanced by cigarettes—with the dates they ran. Printed alongside the ads were messages revealing what tobacco companies knew about cigarettes, for example, ‘‘The tobacco industry has known that nicotine is addictive since 1963. They denied any knowledge before Congress in 1994. Four years later they finally admitted it.’’

The 1998 antitobacco campaign received considerable media attention, particularly ‘‘Gala Event,’’ which brought to light a traditionally taboo subject. The number of smokers in California appeared to be on the decline as well, with the percentage of adult smokers dropping from 18.6 percent in 1996 to 18.2 percent in 1997. Smoking among youths also dropped, from 11.2 percent in 1996 to 10.9 percent in 1997. ‘‘I’m encouraged by the decline in smoking,’’ announced Belsh, in a press release. ‘‘Smoking among youth in California has dropped for two years in a row, despite rising rates of youth smoking around the rest of the country. The adult smoking rate remains lower than any other state, with the exception of Utah.’’ Also encouraging was the reduction in illegal sales of tobacco goods to minors in California, which dropped to 13.1 percent in 1998, an impressive 40 percent in one year.
Although the CDHS continued with its aggressive antitobacco media campaign in 1999, the word about the ills of smoking began to spread beyond a few select states such as California, Massachusetts, and Arizona. Out of the $206 billion settlement reached between tobacco companies and 39 states, which were suing to recoup the healthcare costs generated by tobacco-related illnesses, about $1.45 billion was tagged to pay for a fiveyear national antitobacco educational campaign. The newly formed National Tobacco Control Foundation was thus poised to launch the largest and most unified antitobacco advertising campaign ever developed, with an estimated $150 to $225 million marketing budget for 1999.