Saturday, 16 July 2011

Got Milk? GET REAL....

An ad campaign in America by The California Milk Processor Group.  It is supposed to increase the sales of milk.. using the obviously hilarious symptoms of PMS or rather, men's suffering at the hands of their pms'ing girlfriends.

It's aimed directly at men, and claims to be using humor to raise awareness of what they call "a REAL condition that affects millions of men every month" and that "PMS places undue strain on personal and professional relationships and for several days in each cycle, men are inexplicably unable to do anything right" The campaign hopes to encourage men to get their wives and girlfriends to drink more milk, as if that will magically solve women's PMS and give them a less stressful life.  It would be more helpful if they advised them to go talk to a Doctor or health professional.

They have a website, which gives you various 'funny' dials and gauges, like a color-coded ”global PMS level,” a “video apology enhancer” and a “mistake verification system”
The loading page shows a glass of milk, with a banner around it stating 'Milk can help the symptoms of PMS'.

On the website the milk group claim:
A majority of women who consumed 1200 mg of calcium a day for three months reported being less irritable, weepy and depressed, and suffering from fewer backaches, and less cramping and bloating. With 300 mg of calcium per glass, milk is the perfect PMS comfort food.
The study they used to come to this conclusion can be seen here, .  Only 55% of women reported an improvement, which means 45% didn't.  It was also shown that a THIRD of women who didn't take calcium experienced an improvement over time anyway.  To get the levels of calcium you would need to help symptoms, you would need to drink a pint of  skimmed or semi-skimmed milk every day, even more if you drink whole milk.

What they don't wish to tell you is that studies have been done regarding the health problems caused or aggravated by milk.  Some sources maintain that high dairy consumption can lead to an increased risk of PMS/PMDD.  Milk and other dairy products can contain high levels of hormones, and consumption can therefore alter hormone levels in sensitive peoples, leading to PMS/PMDD symptoms. Diets which are high in caffeine and sugar may also have this effect (there goes your white coffee or tea with 2 sugars!).

If you are a PMDD sufferer, because the symptoms are so serious and life restricting, you become obsessed with finding a solution, or finding ways to relieve the symptoms.  You will learn quickly that food plays a massive part in managing symptoms and there are foods that are better to avoid.  In a perfect world we would all eat unprocessed, fresh, natural food.  Whole food.  The milk that we buy in our current society is processed, it comes from cows that have been given hormones and antibiotics.  It is the best milk for calves, not necessarily, for humans.

Vivian Goldschmit (a graduate of New York University with a Masters of Arts degree in Nutritional Sciences and Biochemistry) creator of the website, an osteoporosis community, says we have been led to believe many myths about milk and in her article here, you can read many other facts about modern day milk:
One of the first myths, she says, is that drinking milk creates healthy bones because of the calcium found in the milk. However, the animal protein found in milk actually depletes the human body of calcium, exactly the opposite of what milk drinkers expect it to do.
Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers.
On the website, you can find information on many health problems that are caused or aggravate by milk.  On the topic of mood swings, Robert Cohen says:
Imagine starting your day with an estrogen pill, followed by progesterone, prolactin, melatonin, oxytocin, and 50+ other hormones including gastrointestinal peptides and hypothalamic hormones. 
It is no wonder that the Townsend Medical Letter noted the following in May of 1995: "In reality, cow's milk, especially processed cow's milk, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including: mucous production, hemoglobin loss, childhood diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, kidney stones, MOOD SWINGS, depression, irritability, allergies."
Can I also mention, that if you were to follow the advice given by the Got Milk Campaign, drinking non or half fat milk will actually MAKE you put on more weight!
The fat in milk actually helps curb you appetite by making you feel fuller by triggering a release of the hormone cholecystokinin.  Fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat.

This is a low blow to those women who suffer from PMS, or it's big ugly sister, PMDD.
To take one unsubstantial research paper and base an entire promotional campaign is crazy, let alone the BAD advice of hormonal women drinking more milk.  The 'humerous' aspect will only be appreciated by men... I'm sorry.. but if we are gonna get sexist here, who does the shopping?

Statements like,  "I'm sorry I listened to what you said, not what you meant", "I'm sorry for the things I did or didn't do" and "We can BOTH blame myself" are sarcastic, insulting and quite frankly don't help anyone.  When you step into the realms of PMDD, you will find men who a dealing with a time bomb.  Someone they love, goes to hell and back every month and often tries to drag them along.  The fact that PMS and PMDD is so misunderstood, still so taboo, means that these men, and their families suffer for years without help.  Women with PMDD go through years of trial and error using medications that haven't been created to treat PMDD... we are guinea pigs.  There isnt enough research into PMS and PMDD, there aren't enough studies or new medications being created.  There just isn't the support available to women with this condition, or their long suffering partners.

A woman with severe PMS or PMDD will have to spend a lot of time dealing with the side effects of medications, only to realise that they are never going to work.
A woman with PMDD will battle every month to 'keep it together', they will try CBT, psychotherapy, counselling,  meditation, exercise, diet, anything that may offer a way of dealing with the feelings and situations that PMDD brings.
I've not met ONE woman with PMDD who jokes about saying something awful to a loved one, or being hurtful, letting people down, or self harming.  I see these women battle everyday with a life destroying illness, I see them battle for their kids, I see them battle for their man/partner, myself included.

I would embrace an advertising campaign that raises awareness about how badly mood disorders and hormone imbalances affect the lives of many.  I would embrace something that gives an uneducated person a true and fair insight into the lives of women, kids, AND men, who live with severe PMS or PMDD.  I would embrace something that promises to raise awareness and demands more research.  

This however, is far from that.  It's nothing more than a company trying to make more money at the expense of women by promoting something that could actually worsen symptoms in a woman with PMS or PMDD.  

Got Milk have released an article about the campaign saying:
GOT MILK? Comes to Relationship Rescue "During That Time of the Month"  
Are you a man living with PMS? That's the question the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the creator of the GOT MILK?, is asking California men this summer. In an advertising campaign titled 'Everything I Do Is Wrong,' the CMPB aims to use its signature GOT MILK? humor to highlight the strain placed on many relationships due to the monthly symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS and how dairy milk can come to the rescue: studies show that the calcium in dairy milk can help reduce PMS symptoms by as much as 50 percent. Whereas most PMS-related messaging is aimed at women, the campaign's core question ("Are you a man living with PMS?") turns the tables and looks at this age-old dilemma from the point of view of the man and the couple. 
"PMS and its symptoms are sensitive issues to discuss among couples," says Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. "We hope that this campaign, through its message and humor, would empower both men and women to talk about this topic more openly and to take action by learning how to help relieve symptoms by drinking dairy milk."
"The goal of the campaign is to engage consumers, while helping users learn about the many benefits of drinking dairy milk," says Jeff Goodby, chairman of GSP. "Milk comes to the rescue and in the case of this campaign, it could very well help strengthen relationships." 
Goodby is no stranger to this topic, having had directed the first GOT MILK? PMS ad in 2005 titled 'Milk to the Rescue.' The humorous 30-second commercial was produced after studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine and in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that the calcium in dairy milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. 'Milk to the Rescue' opens to scenes of men in grocery and convenience stores stocking up on gallons of milk. The frantic, near desperate looks on their faces are funny, but puzzling. Viewers are the then let in on the secret when a guy comes home with grocery bags full of milk and a bouquet of flowers. A full screen comes on where audiences learn how milk can make that "time-of-the-month" a little better. The ad ends with the ubiquitous tagline "GOT MILK?"
Jeff Goodby is quoted in The  NY Times as saying "We did it in the past, but the women just didn’t drink enough milk,” he says, laughing. “If they’d only drink enough, we wouldn’t come back."

No need to wonder where the sexist ideas come from then?


Little Miss Jekyll/Hyde said...

Well said! It's a farce of a campaign. x

Nichole Fausey-Khosraviani said...

Well, goodness sake, I could certainly write a book of comments on this one, Cat. First let me just say, "IDIOTS!" Second, you're absolutely right--I wish more people would understand statistics and how they are used to fool people. Third, and though I'm an advocate of raw milk, from cows on pasture who eat grass and not soy, corn, or other dreadful things which cause their stomachs to be highly acidic, and form ulcers, thus the need for a steady supply of antibiotics in ever meal--that's right, friends--EVERY MEAL!, humans do not NEED cow's milk. We can get by without it. I never recommend milk to people as a first choice for any illness. Okay... where am I at, 4th(?), skim milk causes heart disease. Skim milk has been dried and reconstituted with water and put back in the jugs, but no government entity mandates that this information needs to get to the consumer. Most products with the ingredient milk, or skim milk are from powdered milk. Powdered milk causes heart disease and a bunch of other stuff.

This ad campaign is going to backfire. IDIOTS! Also, the milk board, or GOT MILK, is against the sale of raw milk, of course. Ultra-pasteurized milk is devoid of anything good for the body. It is completely dead... AND many pasteurized and ultra pasteurized milks have added vitamin D and calcium. Now some are adding A.

It's all so sad... for the love of money.

Great entry, Cat. I haven't seen this in the US. I hope it doesn't come to Texas.

Anonymous said...

Great post. And I'm glad to find your blog as a result.

Yes, this ad campaign defies belief. I'm delighted there's been an outcry, but the ad owner and agency seem utterly oblivious to how condescending and counterproductive this approach is.

I read an interview (in New York Times) in which the California diary farmers guy felt they were pushing the boundries because PMS is a touchy / taboo subject! Also, that they'd market researched the campaign and got good responses, so they expected (and I quote) "very, very little in the way of pushback". (Well, have they got THAT wrong!)

How long before they come back and say women have no sense of humour - especially when they're premenstrual!

I've also blogged about this:

My site is new and focused on lifestyle management and moderate PMS mainly. (I'm into nutrition and vegan, as well as PMS).

I'm consoling myself that this kind of ad campaign couldn't happen in the UK (Could it?!)

Best wishes,
Bo (AKA PMS Warrior)

Cat said...

Thanks Bo - PMS Warrior... Nice to meet you! xx

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