Chief Brand & Experience Officer Winston Binch joins GALE for a Q&A about MilkPEP’s latest campaign, starring White Lotus actress Aubrey Plaza as co-founder of ‘Wood Milk’ – a fictional alternative Milk brand. Read about the inspiration behind the satirical ad in The Drum, Adweek, Ad Age, and below:
1. Tell us about Wood Milk - how did it come to life?
Wood Milk is a fictional alt-Milk brand, with a famous co-founder, Aubrey Plaza. We launched it like a health and wellness start-up on social, OOH, and through press and influencer outreach. We also built a bespoke website. While it was supported in paid media, we primarily leaned on Aubrey to get the word out, first launching on her Instagram account, and then across TikTok, YouTube, and OOH.
2. Where did the idea come from?
Wood Milk was conceived during a writer’s room-style brainstorm with our clients in February 2023. For the last couple of years we’ve mostly focused on our mission to drive reconsideration for Milk as a performance drink, with moms and daughters. While that’s still our primary and long-term strategic focus, we were interested in exploring ideas to put Milk in culture. With alt-Milks taking a more aggressive approach to their marketing, we thought it was time to make some noise of our own in an entertaining and provocative way. The fact that the alt-Milk industry will make Milk out of just about anything these days is a funny and relatable insight, no matter what you drink. We don’t have anything against alts, and Wood Milk is not for everyone. But there’s only one OG: Real Milk. People should question what they’re drinking; not everything’s created equal or has the same nutritional value.
3. How did you decide to cast Aubrey?
Every new health and wellness start-up needs a famous founder these days. For us, Aubrey Plaza was the only option. Her deadpan delivery and amazing comedic range were exactly what we were looking for. In addition to being supremely talented, she was also a Milk drinker, having even drunk it through her nose on “Hot Ones.” Thankfully, she loved the concept.
4. You worked with Saturday Night Live writer & producers. How did this bring your vision to life?
Our mission was real funny, not ad funny. We wanted something that could hold its own with the best of SNL skits. That intention led us to Hannah Levy, during our director search. Hannah cut their teeth as an SNL director and brought us an incredible treatment. Neil Casey, our co-writer, and a longtime collaborator of Aubrey’s, is a master of his craft and also had SNL and great comedic experience. Both of them, along with Aubrey, added to our original idea through script edits and improvisation. The concept was funny to start with, but our collaborators brought it to another level. At GALE, we’re huge believers in the power of collaboration of all types.
5. What’s been the response so far?
The response has exceeded our expectations and #WoodMilKNation has rallied in support. The campaign has raked in nearly 18K followers on the @DrinkWoodMilk Instagram account, +25M views on our main TikTok video, and 5.7M YouTube views. We also sold out our first drop of Wood Milk t-shirts, which have since been restocked.
6. What were the objectives of the campaign?
We wanted to put Milk in culture and start a conversation.
7. MilkPEP has been on a mission to reinvent itself for the next generation. How does Wood Milk fall into that wider marketing strategy?
Not everything we do is designed to create cultural conversation or debate. MilkPEP’s mission to sponsor every woman marathon in the US is not controversial. It’s intended to be genuinely supportive of a very specific community of athletes. That said, we’ll continue to find space in our marketing plan for work that has a funny bone. Milk’s at its best when it makes you smile.