The campaign, introduced on July 11 by the Milk Board and ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (part of the Omnicom Group), focused on the claim that the calcium in milk helps reduce PMS symptoms.
The campaign featured a series of print ads showing men holding cartons of milk, apologizing for “listening to what you said and not what you meant” or for “not reading between the right lines”, as well as a website for men that gave advice on how to deal with menstruating wives and girlfriends.
In response to numerous complaints that the campaign was sexist – including a petition on change.org started by Ms. Magazine – the Milk Board has pulled the ads. The petition, which received 9,339 signatures before it was closed on July 21, called the campaign “overwhelmingly sexist, playing on the tired stereotype of menstruating women as volatile monsters.”
The Milk Board has also replaced the original website Everythingidoiswrong.org with GotDiscussion.org and released the following statement:
Over the past couple of weeks, regrettably, some people found our campaign about milk and PMS to be outrageous and misguided – and we apologize to those we offended.
Others thought it was funny and educational.
It has opened up a topic that affects women, of course, but also relationships.
The new site also includes a “representative sampling” of comments made about the campaign, ranging from “Ads were funny, artistically pleasing, and definitely over-the-top” to “These ads are bad enough to cause lactose intolerance.”
Steve James, executive director of the Milk Board, told the New York Times, “Taking down everythingidoiswrong.org is not a failure in any way. I don’t see it as ending it or pulling the plug. We accomplished what we set out to accomplish.”
In a blog entry for Ms. Magazine, Amy Borsuk called the Change.org petition a “success” but suggested that the Got Discussion website is “a flimsy stand-in for a real apology and a real end to the campaign.”
She continued, “While discussion is certainly healthy, the Milk Board is still using this campaign to sell its product–now it’s just using the controversy rather than the ads themselves.”
She also expressed concern that the “discussion” on Twitter (under the hashtag #gotdiscussion) and on the Got Milk Facebook page – which is seemingly unmoderated – would quickly result in even more sexist remarks.