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I often see question "Got milk?" in ads related to milk and milk products. Does it have any hidden (maybe "Urban Dictionary" kind of?) meaning, any humorous/playful allusions in popular culture, movies, etc.?

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Got_Milk%3F –  stacker Jun 14 '11 at 5:43
    
uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Got_milk%3F (humourous/playful) –  Randolf Richardson Jun 14 '11 at 5:56
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Got Milk?" was an ad campaign started in the 90s in the US, to promote cow's milk consumption.

It has been widely reused/modified/mocked for humorous purposes. As far as I know there is no specific hidden meaning in Got milk?, although some of the remakes may have one.

Wikipedia has an article about it.

The original commercial can be seen here.

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Wow, Michael Bay made something that didn't suck. –  Malvolio Jun 14 '11 at 6:25
    
Hey now, Michael does lots of stuff that doesn't suck - and who else can throw a cable car down a hill?? You know, I'm somewhat sure the FAMOUS POSTERS (Billboards, I mean) were famous BEFORE the TV commercials ... I think. (The wikipedia article is just as accurate as wikipedia always is :-/ ) –  Joe Blow Jun 14 '11 at 11:46
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"got milk?" is a very successful milk campaign made by Goodby Silverstein & Partners. While the milk sales were dropping down, the agency redefined its (milk's) purpose.

Notice the old advertising emphasizes the health benefits of milk, talking about its level of calcium, etc. The research showed people didn't care. Hence, the "got milk?" campaign, which reminds people of milk as an additional product they use for other purposes--cereals, coffee and any other products that without the addition of milk do not taste that well.

The campaign is there simply to remind you if you "got milk", because you will probably need it for other products.

It is a legendary campaign that resulted in big boost of milk sales all across the country.

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Leo: it's pretty complicated! I will walk you through the whole sense!!

The only real "hidden" meaning, is that, it's rather slang.

It's like cool! hip! street talk! You know?

So: with milk, you would think of milk as quite conservative. You'd expect the ad slogan to have perfect grammar. (Perhaps: "Enjoy milk, for vitamins and minerals.")

In contrast, they came up with a slogan that is deliberately hip! cool! slang! poor grammar! and so on. Do you see what I mean?

It's more like the sort of slogan you would expect for a running shoe company. (Such as of course the most famous "Just do it" - short, slangy, street-talk, youth-oriented.)

But there's a second factor:

Note that it is a cliché in the English language, particularly in the USA, that when someone is on a trip to the supermarket, you will typically ask yourself "hmm, do I have milk, have I got the milk?" Does that make sense?

Regarding the two things milk and bread, it's very common to ask, "Hmm, have I got milk, have I got enough bread, did I buy milk, Honey, did you pick up milk at the shop?" and so on.

To make an example: it's rather like "Hmm, I've misplaced my spectacles / car keys."

The cliché of things you misplace, is your glasses or car keys. The cliché of things you "have to remember at the store" is milk (and also bread). It makes sense?

{For example! I just saw a comedy sketch on TV where the joke was a woman forgot something at the supermarket, after a very long drive. She snaps her fingers and says "Damn, I forgot the milk."}

So, you understand that it is very common to say "have you got milk, did you remember the milk, have you got enough milk, did you forget the milk" after perhaps a trip to the store.

Again - let's pretend the product was not milk, but perhaps "biscuits" or "tuna fish" or "dishwashing detergent"

Note carefully ...... none of these would work in the slogan. Got biscuits, got dishwashing detergent .... it would just sound silly. Only milk (and perhaps bread) are the ubiquitous items which immediately come to mind as the type of thing you can't forget at the store.

The slogan is a rather clever spin on this. It takes the common cliché (have you got milk, do we have enough milk, do we have milk) ... and expresses it more crisply as a slangy, streetwise, short, sports-equipment-like slogan: "Got milk?"

Once again, you would expect milk to have a conservative boring slogan ("Milk offers you many benefits!" type of thing.) It's a surprise that they use a very slangy, streetish phrase.

And again, there's the extra twist that, it's a real cliché to say "have you got the milk, did you forget the milk." They are actually just boldly using that cliché, right in your face, as a trendy cool phrase.

The VISUALS of the original poster ad campaign were people you would not expect to drink milk (oversexed supermodels, sports stars, etc) with a "milk moustache" after drinking a big glass of milk. (Example, http://www.auctionscc.com/site/auctionscccom/img/dataset/archive/200810/lg/210.jpg )

The ultimate aim of the ads was to make milk seem perhaps young, cool, hip, trendy - rather than the white liquid that comes from cow's breasts.

Again, that's the very fundamental reason the catchphrase is slangy, bad grammar, short, street-wise.

And again, the notion "did you forget the milk, do you have milk, have we got milk in the house" is an accepted comic cliché - that's the point there - so it's quite clever that they just grabbed that and boldly made it the slogan (in a brief, slangy way).

If you are a non-English speaker, I hope this helps deeply explain this one little bit of American ephemeral culture!!! Cheers

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Hi Joe! Yeah, I can see it's pretty complicated! But you know what? You did a great job walking me through! You did provide a lot of very helpful and deep details, you know what I mean? And again, the whole questions is not that simple, right? It may look simple on the surface, but it's really not! So thank you for your time and effort! You know what? You really have deeply explained the matter to me! –  Leo Jun 14 '11 at 15:21
    
@Leo Hi Leo! You are correct. The question is absolutely not simple. Trying to explain something as subtle as marketing-pun-slogan writing, is very, very subtle and goes to the very heart of colloquialism in a language. All the best. –  Joe Blow Jun 14 '11 at 21:31
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