California Milk Advisory Board
Making fun of Wisconsin weather? The stereotypical accent? C'mon, California -- don't you have writers over there?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was a foam triangle of yellow cheese, it was a set of flocked black ears.
Other than a few close Rose Bowl games in the Barry Alvarez era of Wisconsin Badgers football, there's really never been much of a Wisconsin-California rivalry. California always seems to get the built-in advantage. They had gold, they have the Pacific, redwoods and mountains. Everything keens to the superlative in the Golden State.
But there's one thing that's been in Wisconsin's corner, seemingly since Joliet and Marquette drifted down the Mississippi. We won 28 Best of Class awards to a scant three for California cheeses in the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest.
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has been working through its inferiority complex for some time now. You've seen some of the spots in its Happy Cows advertising campaign if you've watched pretty much any network television in the last eight years. The tagline "Great milk comes from happy cows; happy cows come from California" was introduced in 2000 with the weight of a $33 million ad budget. We've had to bear witness to such oddities as cow flirting (watch), cow foot massages by virtue of a minor earthquake (watch), and cows kicking footballs (watch), which is of course infinitely more unnatural than Clydesdales kicking footballs (watch).
The ads have been snotty and snarky, and generally irritating to those of us who know for what these spots are compensating, but they hadn't really gotten mean. At least, not until 2004. Then, we were treated to perhaps the first shot directly across the bow of Midwestern dairyworks. Sadie the Cow was making a break for it, heading from somewhere snowy and cold on the way to California (watch). Trudging through the weather, she'd made it about 20 yards in two weeks.
Two years later, they made an ostensible return to that spot, with a "new girl" arriving in the sunny California pasture (watch). Making fun of Wisconsin weather? The stereotypical accent? C'mon, California -- don't you have writers over there? Couldn't you come up with something better than a bovine rehashing of Mean Girls? I guess we could have expected an attack on regional stereotypes, especially from a state full of aspiring but mediocre screenwriters, insecure actresses, and smiley glad-hands with hidden agendas (thank you, Tool).The newest campaign from the CMAB is a reality show-style series of bovine audition tapes, and it has given California a chance to play "tweak the stereotype" with any number of American demographics! Take, for example, the teenaged Alicia, who appears to be on the verge of running away from home to seek her fame. Or Jenn from somewhere in the Deep South, whose mother is pressuring her to perform a la toddler beauty queens. Urbanite Destynee (whose "audition tape" has not yet been released) appears to be a mashup of cultural identities along the lines of Sharpay from High School Musical (don't ask me why I know that).
Of course, the most cruel-hearted spot in this campaign is the tape for "Kirsten" -- note the Scandinavian etymology -- a desperately upbeat young lady from a familiar snowy and cold somewhere (watch). Under apparent threat of wolf attack and death by exposure, she doesn't say where she's from in the ad. Only by going to the CMAB audition site do we discover the cow's Canadian. Call me paranoid, but the Fargo accent, the name, the snowy climate, and the track record of these ads taking swipes at the Badger State, all say "Sconnie" before "Canuck." No worries, though, since there are a few other entrants from somewhere in the Midwest that fit the bill too. Of course, it's also possible that California flinched.
If that's the case, California, get ready for more; we've got your number. You've got weather -- congratulations. We've got all those awards I mentioned before. We're still making more cheese than you, even if you've still got the edge on overall dairy production. And 98% of US dairy farms may be