NEW YORK How do you take an over-the-top campaign about a spandex-wearing rock star who drinks milk from his guitar to "the next level"?
As Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and its longtime client the California Milk Processor Board considered a Spinal Tap-worthy follow up to its 2008 "White Gold" campaign, the answer quickly became obvious: a rock opera.
The twenty-minute online musical, "Battle for Milkquarius," makes its debut today at www.milkquarius.com and chronicles White Gold's quest to save his hometown after the villain Nasterious steals all the town's milk and kidnaps our hero's gal-pal Strawberry Summers.
"It has a feeling of a cross between Spinal Tap, Tommy and Flight of the Conchords," said Steve James, executive director of the California Milk Processor Board. "The research we did after the first iteration of 'White Gold' was that the teen target wanted him to do more. We thought we'd take it to the next level and the next level was a rock opera. He created, wrote and produced an homage to himself."
While White Gold is billed as writer and producer, the six songs in the musical, directed by MJZ's Tom Kuntz, were in fact written by Goodby copywriter Andrew Bancroft, who penned the lyrics and enlisted Detroit band Electric Six to compose the music and perform the songs.
"We just figured [White Gold] out last year," said Bancroft of the colorful character. "We weren't ready for White Gold to hang up his milk-filled guitar."
Art director Adrien Bindi said the team went "through every rock opera ever made" to research the project. But the "charming stupidity" of the character provided plenty of inspiration for the style and storyline. "A lot of it came out of the humor of the character," said Bindi. "He tries to show a lot of power and coolness but at the same time he is drinking milk out of a guitar."
The campaign includes the online film, four TV spots and an ad for in-classroom network Channel One that invites kids in California high schools to enter a YouTube video contest recreating one of the scenes for the chance to win $20,000 to help fund their school's arts program. "Arts programs are extremely valuable to the development of students, and we are in an environment where because of budget cuts, the first thing that typically gets cut is arts funding," said James, adding that the contest not only benefits educational programs but promotes "good messaging about milk."
The deadline is Dec. 20. A panel of judges will select nine finalists and an online vote will determine the tenth. The grand prizewinner will be chosen by online vote in January. The second place winner will receive $10,000 and eight runner-ups will win $2,500.