Late last summer, Olympic champion Katie Ledecky helped revive the legendary “Got Milk?” tagline by swimming the length of a pool with a glass of chocolate milk balanced on her head. It was TikTok gold.
For the follow-up, the national milk processors’ organization, MilkPEP, has staged another physically challenging stunt—this time, with an elite climber who scales a 30-story building in Kansas City, Mo.
The group is also debuting a new slogan, “You’re Gonna Need Milk For That,” repositioning milk as “the original sports drink” in work that intentionally has “more swagger and attitude” than previous campaigns, according to Yin Woon Rani, MilkPep’s CEO.
“I just loved the assertive and ambitious tone of the brand platform and the creative,” Rani said. “It just seemed like a great way to reclaim milk’s mojo!”
The messaging aims to tap into at least a few macrotrends—consumers are taking better care of themselves since the pandemic and gravitating toward food and drinks with fewer additives and cleaner labels.
New data shows, for instance, that milk has 13 nutrients that fuel athletic performance (recently upgraded from nine, per DRI) and only three ingredients total (milk, vitamins A and D), as opposed to sports drinks’ multiple-ingredient recipes with added sugar, flavors and color.
The ad, dubbed “The Wall,” is the first for the brand from new lead agency Gale, with Oscar-winning filmmaker Jimmy Chin (Free Solo) directing the hero 2-minute video of 21-year-old Kai Lighter scaling the Lightwell Building. (Lightner’s mom, Connie, watches from the ground, holding his strategically placed carton of milk).
“In the past, milk showed how life can be when you don’t have it,” said Geoff Edwards, Gale’s executive creative director. “We wanted to show how life can be when you do have it.”
Agency execs, who worked with Hunter and The Mars Agency, want consumers to reconsider the role of milk in their lives, since it has fueled athletes “for centuries.” They’re also trying to make the iconic “Got Milk?” tagline more relevant in 2021 with climbing, an inclusive sport that’s growing in popularity and set to appear in the Tokyo Olympics this summer for the first time.
“Traditional storytelling wasn’t a consideration,” said Winston Binch, Gale’s chief brand and experience officer. “Instead, we wanted to prove the power of milk through an epic stunt.”
For a peek into the production process, equipment included a heavy-lift drone, an Inspire 2 drone, a giant camera boom and several time-lapse cameras. It took months to plan the logistics, including a few weeks to custom-create the rock wall, though all filming happened on a single day in April.
The team scouted buildings in nine cities before choosing the Lightwell, partly because “we liked the idea of shooting a skyline you don’t see that often,” Edwards said.
“We didn’t want to do it in the wild because we’ve seen that before,” he said. “We wanted it to be unexpected and loved the idea of doing it in an urban environment.”
The campaign—targeting teens, tweens and young parents, as well everyday athletes and fitness buffs—is “another jaw-dropping act of physical achievement and cinematic craft,” Rani said. As it unfolds, it will release more original content with influencers and “Team Milk” athletes such as skateboarder Maurio McCoy, softball player Cat Osterman, BMX freestyler Hannah Roberts and karate champ Ariel Torres.
“The Wall” and the new tagline will roll out over sports and lifestyle sites; via out of home in New York, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles; across social channels; and on delivery trucks. It will also get exposure on Gen Z-skewing media like Snapchat, Roblox, Whistle Sports and Overtime. A TikTok challenge will premiere around Memorial Day with more milk-loving athletes like Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, disc golfer Brodie Smith and cheerleader Brittany Hertz.
Hunter The Mars Agency TMA Creative Director: Jimmy Chin
STEPT Director: Nick Martini Head of Production: Mac Hedges Executive Producer: Randall Bourquin Executive Producer/Line Producer: Richard Martin Director of Photography: Cam Riley LOCKT Head of Postproduction: Connor Scofield Post Producer: Joaquin Villalobos Lead Editor: Chris Besecker & Miles Cable BTS Editor: Cameron Doherty Assistant Editor: Emily Nudell Finishing Editor: Nicole Johal Colorist: Bryan Smaller Sound Designer: Eric Crepeau Music Supervisor: Peymon Maskan Music Coordinator: Jenna Wilson Music: Soolja “I Like That (instrumental)” VFX Supervisor: Ruel Smith VFX Team: Ryan Nordin, William Bachman, Samuel Selman