Coca-Cola are investing in a new processed milk drink, developed by Fairlife, which claims to contain 50 per cent more protein and half the sugar of normal milk, with naturally enhanced Calcium levels. According to Coke, this new high protein drink will make it “rain money” for the soft drinks company. Health and nutrition claims aside, with the drink selling at twice the price of normal milk, this seems likely.
Nevertheless, that’s not the most disconcerting aspect about the drink, which has already been branded “Milka-Cola”. What worries me is the accompanying advertisement campaign for this “good-for-you milk”. A series of mainly white, young women with wide open mouths and long flowing hair, wearing high heels and skimpy white ‘milky’ dresses are portrayed as pin-up girls. Even if this is an ironic joke (which sadly, it seems not to be) the female stereotyping is almost too obvious.
Similar to previous gendered advertisements of every day products, used to sell everything from beer to soap, Fairlife milk is being marketed with an undertone of wholesomeness and cleanliness. While the woman in the classic Lux soap ad became edible through her clean skin, the Fairlife woman becomes drinkable through her thin waist.
In one of the images a blond girl is pictured standing on a scale, slightly bent over revealing to reveal her a sliver of bottom. The caption reads: “better milk looks good on you”. Another image shows a brunette woman posing in a milk-splashed dress, which barely covers her crotch, with the words “drink what she’s wearing”. As if the images themselves weren’t insulting enough, these captions enhance the sexist undertones of a message supposedly intended to focus on health and nutrition.
The Most Controversial Fashion Adverts
The Most Controversial Fashion Adverts
1/9 YSL, 2000
The infamous Yves Saint Laurent Opium perfume advert featuring a naked Sophie Dahl was removed from billboards as it was deemed "sexually suggestive and unsuitable to be seen by children", although was allowed to run in certain fashion magazines. It is the eighth most complained about advert, receiving 948 complaints.
2/9 Agent Provocateur, 2001
The lingerie ad saw Kylie Minogue writhe on a rodeo bull and was only permitted to be shown in cinemas. The campaign was banned from all UK television channels, except BBC1.
3/9 Wonderbra, 1994
Eva Herzigova's Wonderbra campaign was thought to have caused car accidents, such was its provocative appeal.
4/9 Dolce & Gabbana, 2007
The label's 2007 advert was banned in Spain after it was thought to "glorify rape". Designer Stefano Gabbana stated that the image was intended to show “an erotic dream, a sexual game”.
5/9 Miu Miu, 2011
Miu Miu's campaign starring Hailee Steinfeld, sitting crying on a train track, was banned in Britain, after it was decided that the image depicted a child in an unsafe location.
6/9 Marc Jacobs, 2009
Dakota Fanning was 17 when Juergen Teller shot her for Marc Jacobs. The picture was thought to "sexualise children" and was banned.
7/9 Tom Ford, 2007
A not-so-subtle message from Tom Ford, photographed by Terry Richardson. The campaign was banned in several countries.
Shot by the controversial photography Terry Richardson, this advert made a play on the word 'fashion junkie'.
9/9 Calvin Klein, 1995
Calvin Klein are known for a string of controversial campaigns (including a picture of 17-year-old Kate Moss straddling Mark Wahlberg), but this 1995 image shot by Steven Meisel provoked negative response from child welfare authorities and the consequently brand withdrew it.
Previous attempts to promote cow’s milk in America include the long standing Got Milk? campaign, which among other things featured animated cows and athletes. In the UK, the “Make Mine Milk” campaign in 2010 targeted teenagers using a variety of celebrities of different ages, backgrounds and gender. Overall, pretty mainstream, but effective.
At what point did milk, a humble drink traditionally marketed for children and teenagers, become associated with pin-up girls? Unlike “Make Mine Milk”, Coke’s new campaign does not seem to be about awareness, but promotion for a product with the sole purpose of profit. But, Fairlife’s ‘racy’ advertisment is patronising for their female and male audiences. Have the creators of this campaign thought this through at all? After all, it is now 2014, not 1940.
“Classics never go out of style” Fairlife states on their website. Sadly, objectifying representations of women have become ‘classics’, and this campaign is yet another example of the ways in which sexism operates: through the repetition of language and image, whereby degrading depictions of women gradually become normalised and made invisible. These problems will not be solved over night, but taking these ads off the market is a good start.