Wednesday, December 13, 2006
No Milk and Cookies in San Francisco
San Francisco advertising firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners came up with a great idea for the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the folks behind the Got Milk? campaign. Simple "Got Milk?" posters would be placed in five busy bus shelters in San Francisco with hidden scent strips that smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The idea was to induce cravings for a cookies and milk break among bus riders. It would have worked in most places, but we are talking about San Francisco.
Quicker than you can say "pass the milk," groups lined up to demand the scent strips be removed. They went after the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority, the CMPB and the ad agency. Perhaps the most legitimate complaint came from people with allergies who said the scent strips might produce allergic reactions from some odor sensitive riders, although I have to question if the "normal" smell of a bus shelter is actually less offensive than the scent strips? Next came advocates for the obese, diabetics and, believe it or not, the homeless who said the Got Milk? campaign in the bus shelters was cruel to people who did not have food.
If groups like this can get the Got Milk? campaign pulled using these arguments, it makes you wonder what other legal products they might attack next. Some communities already have restrictions on where ads for beer, wines and spirits can appear. The idea that an ad should get banned because it might actual work to motivate someone to buy the product is amazing to me. I thought that's what good advertising was supposed to do.