25 July 2011

Even your discussion is wrong? California Milk Board is at it again

LAST WEEK ON THIS DISH IS VEG: The California Milk Board released an ad campaign that touts milk as a cure for PMS. The ads were targeted towards men, and the only symptom implied was irrational hostility. Stephanie DeBalko examines the truth to the campaigns' claim in her article, and you can find my own critical analysis of the Everything I do is wrong ads here.

The California Milk Board is at it again, this time with a response to the criticism it received for its Everything I do is wrong campaign. The "discussion" site aggregates unfavorable articles from Babble, Adweek, and Jezebel, non-critical coverage from MediaPost, facebook comments, a video of a CNN medical correspondent handing out cheese, and other random unattributed posts - likely from the #gotdiscussion Twitter hashtag. For legitimacy, the Milk Board also points to the "original investigation:" Calcium and Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Incident Premenstrual Syndrome.

But before anyone digs into that study, take a look at the criticism linked to by the Got Discussion? page:
"It presents women as more uncontrollably irrational than ever before!"
"It’s aimed at men and makes fun of a touchy and often miserable part of women’s lives by using the lamest and oldest stereotypes of bitchy, irrational and unpredictable women"
"This kind of "Take my wife" crap is so hackneyed that it seems beneath us to even point out how dumb and sexist it is. But yes. It is both."
This criticism, or these specific examples selected by the California Milk Board have nothing to do with whether or not milk treats PMS.

On that subject, note that these "educational" ads say, "milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS." What the ads don't say is the touted study associates low fat and skim milk with a reduction in PMS risk, while whole milk results in an increase in PMS risk. Seems like an important caveat to mention. I suppose the California Milk Board isn't willing to cannabalize its sales for a so-called public service announcement?

There are more problems to be found with the ad's relationship to original study, but that's almost beside the point. This damage control page isn't a discussion. Did anyone expect transparent discussion from shills for an opaque secretion? In presenting unrelated studies and opinions as relevant debate for criticism of problematic aspects of the ad, the site reveals itself as PR smokescreen: an attempt to cloud the real issue.

Interestingly enough, the campaign's original site - EverythingIDoIsWrong.org - has been pulled. It now redirects to the Got Discussion? site.

Michael Schnier
Michael went vegan in May of 2010 while shopping for his weekly groceries. Michael is a communications studies undergrad at Carleton University and spends too much of his time arguing on the internet. When not butting heads, Michael can be found reading Vertigo comics, listening to the Smiths, and writing bad poetry. Follow Michael on his Tumblr blog.

Photo credit: Screen capture http://gotdiscussion.org/#/