Setting the Record Straight on the Happy Cows Commercial Production Situation

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Setting the Record Straight on the Happy Cows Commercial Production Situation

In light of an inflammatory article featured in the November 13th, 2009 edition of the Los Angeles Times, the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) offers the following facts about the production of its highly successful Happy Cows television commercials and the Unhappy Cows “Auditions” campaign:

Fact 1: To set the record straight, we are not shooting Happy Cows commercials, California cows or settings in New Zealand, we are shooting Unhappy Cows from all over the world auditioning to become California cows. Any ads that show actual California cows have always been – and will always be – filmed and produced completely in California.

Fact 2: The California Milk Advisory Board’s promotional campaigns are funded by California’s dairy families through a check-off program that is administered through the California Department of Food & Agriculture. None of the CMAB’s promotional programs are funded with taxpayer dollars.

Fact 3: The California Milk Advisory Board has been a longtime supporter of the creative talents in our state. The two most important commercial production professionals hired by our advertising agency to produce the Happy Cows spots are the California-based producer, Karen Rohrbacher, and director, Chris Hooper, who have held these roles with us for almost ten years. These experienced AICP & DGA members have been hired again to produce the new set of ads and will be traveling to New Zealand to oversee the small portion of production that will be filmed on a soundstage there. All post-production work, including music, animation, editing and special effects will be done in California, as always. To put this in perspective, four days total will be spent in New Zealand: one for pre-production and three for shooting. After this minor portion of production is done, the footage will be brought back to California where it will take six-to-eight weeks to finish each of the 10 new commercials. This means that a minimum of 100 times the work - and, thus, employment - done on the Unhappy Cows “Auditions” ads will be executed in California. In fact more than 90% of the entire 2010 advertising production budget is being spent in California and creating jobs for our important commercial production industry.

Fact 4: The California dairy industry is facing its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The situation has been so bad that 10 percent of dairies in California have been forced to shut down and sell off their cows. It’s more important than ever to spend producer dollars efficiently. We carefully considered all options for producing this round of commercials and the business decision was made to save money on the commodity end of the TV commercial production cycle – shooting of non-Californian cows on a soundstage – to help save the industry so that it can continue to produce the top quality dairy products that consumers have come to expect.

Fact 5: The California dairy industry is a major employer of the state’s citizens. The most recent economic impact data available, from 2007, estimates that 435,000 full-time jobs are associated with this vital industry. These jobs include on-the-farm and beyond-the-farm jobs, including those workers who grow feed, as well as workers in processing plants, distribution centers and grocery stores in the U.S.

Fact 6: The Happy Cows campaign (and the Unhappy Cows “Auditions” campaign in particular) has been one of the most successful campaigns in CMAB history. We received more than 1 million votes (and counting) for the next Happy California Cow. This demonstrates an extremely high level of consumer engagement and interest, driving people to where our dairy farmers can tell a deeper story about who they are and the tremendous products they produce.