(Source: Polis 2011)
This “Got Milk” advertisement was created by the California Milk Processor Board and, according to the Milk Board’s Executive Director Steve James, the intention is to promote a type of “humor [that] will allow people to laugh at themselves” (Polis 2011). Undoubtedly, the marketing “experts” who came up with this idea were mostly, if not all, men who have no concept of what women go through when they experience the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes associated with premenstrual syndrome or PMS (Halbreich, Borenstein, Pearlstein & Kahn 2003). For the Milk Board marketing team, PMS is something to joke about and poke fun at women about. It is indicative of the sexist attitudes that used to be more common and prevalent in the media. The ad campaign, yes there are more of these types of sexist visual ads, was conceived by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners marketing firm and apparently approved by the CMP Board (Polis 2011).The “frightened” looking man tells women “I apologize for letting you misinterpret what I was saying”, while in two other similar ads in the same marketing campaign, different but equally “frightened” looking men say “I apologize for not reading between the right lines,” “I’m sorry for the thing or things I did or didn’t do,” “We can both blame myself” and “I’m sorry I listened to what you said and not what you meant” (Polis 2011). As Rebecca Cullers (2011) from AdWeek states, these Milk Board sexist ads “presents women as more uncontrollably irrational than ever before!” The ads target sexist men who are encouraged by these ads to think “I think your concerns are invalid and you’re just bitching at me because your baby maker is about to blow”, according to Cullers (2011). What is really outrageous is that a Goodby representative publicly stated on the record that “We are very happy with the response to the campaign so far. We knew it was going to be a little controversial” (Cullers 2011). These sexist marketing “geniuses” apparently think making fun of women about PMS is hilarious and good for business. They even created a website called “Everything I do is wrong.org” where sexist men can visit to “check the current global PMS levels and monitor “key PMS indicators” such as cocoa futures, silver futures and gold futures” (Polis 2011). This sexist site is implying that when women are PMSing, men should try to calm them down with chocolate (milk) and high end jewelry. At the bottom of the offensive ad, the Milk Board proudly states, “Milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS”, whereas studies have found that women with premenstrual anxiety should actually consume less dairy products to feel better, less anxious and less irritable (Demarest 1985).
The image above is my altered/edited version of the Got Milk ad. Using the Windows Paint program, I changed several of the more sexist phrases and remarks from the ad to create my own cultural jamming poster. Since the men in this ad campaign are making clearly sexist remarks that promote gender stereotyping of women as being crazy, irrationally irritable beings, I decided to restructure the ad into one depicting these men (with the above man as an example) as being drunk when they made their sexist rants and comments. Instead of “I apologize for letting you misinterpret what I was saying,” the ad now says “Beer makes me say Stupid things!” After all, a rational, mature, sober man would not go up to a woman who may or may not be experiencing the hormonal changes and physical or emotional challenges associated with PMS and make fun of her PMS. Therefore, instead of assuming all the men at the marketing agency and the Milk Board are stupid or sexist, we can assume they were drunk when they approved this sexist ad campaign. Similarly, I altered the website banner to now state “Stop Drunken Sexism.org” where visitors can see videos of drunken men ranting and raving, hops futures are posted, and stock prices for beer companies are listed. [wink, wink] Furthermore, unlike the false Milk Board claim that “Milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS” from the original ad, my edited version truthfully states “Milk can help reduce drunken sexist rants!” After all, if men drink milk instead of beer, then they will not get drunk. However, if they continue making sexist rants while sober on milk, then their continued rants simply prove they are immature sexists who cannot blame their rants or their gender discriminations on the beer.
Cullers, R. (2011). Got Sexism? Ad Week. Retrieved from https://www.adweek.com/creativity/got-pms-have-glass-milk-you-crazy-bitch-133353/
Demarest, C. B. (1985). Relief for the patient with PMS. Patient Care, 19, 118-132.
Halbreich, U., Borenstein, J., Pearlstein, T., & Kahn, L. S. (2003). The prevalence, impairment, impact, and burden of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMS/PMDD). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28, 1-23.
Polis, C. (2011). Got PMS? Drink some milk, says sexist ad campaign. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/07/12/pms-milk-sexist_n_896333.html?ri18n=true