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What is the common denominator between Martha Stewart

What is the common denominator between Martha Stewart, Superman, Alex Trebeck, Britney Spears, David Beckham, Kermit the Frog and Muhammad Ali?


That’s right, they all wore the milk mustache in the fantastically successful “Got Milk” ads, as did just about every celebrity in the 90’s and 2000’s. Here’s a few others: Tony Bennet, Lauren Bacall, Wolverine, Taylor Swift, Larry King, Elton John, Angelina Jolie, Yoda and Beyonce.

(The pictures with milk mustaches are copyrighted)

The ads were produced for the California Milk Processor’s Board in 1993 with the mustache added in 1995. The ads were created by advertising agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and were directed by Michael Bay. Driven by the country’s biggest celebrities, the ads ran for more than two decades and became a part of the culture. In 2022, they were named one of the best commercials of all time based on a poll by USA Today.

You will not be surprised when I tell you that the ad agency did an exhaustive amount of research and surveys before having the creative light bulb go on. Almost all successful corporate advertising campaigns are based on information the advertiser gets from his customers and prospects.

And that is true for our clients as well. Let me give you an example.

A company came to us looking to market telecom systems to the correctional industry – payphones for inmate use. (Unfortunately), this is a billion-dollar industry.

We conducted surveys of wardens and sheriffs across the country to find out what it is that they thought was important or valuable about an inmate phone system.

We found one “button,” a hot button that really resonated. They wanted the phone system to be indestructible. (If the phone breaks, the inmates get upset, fights break out, the press gets wind of it…you get the picture.)

Okay, so we had a button — a point of agreement among this public.

But we wanted to position the company so it stood out from the competition; so that the company’s advertising was not only unique but communicated instantly. The way this works is that we use a button/s from the first survey and create and then conduct a second survey based on that information, called a positioning survey.

In this survey, we asked this same public, not necessarily the same respondents but the same public, what object or activity represented indestructible to them.

The answer was a TANK.

This information went to the marketing department and this company rolled out a whole marketing and PR campaign: The Indestructible Tankphone with all the graphics to match.

The company (a startup) went from zero to $30 million a year in sales in three years and became the largest independent provider of inmate phone systems in the country.

Why? Because we found out what the sheriffs and wardens thought was valuable – “indestructible” – and then we got what represented that to them: a tank. The company used the survey results to create a sales and PR campaign around that positioning. Sales soared; the company skyrocketed.

It is hard to overestimate the value of a surveyed position for your company’s marketing and PR.

Do you have one?

“The positioning that grew out of your research was nothing short of stellar. Now we have a strategically researched, laser-like position that will dramatically assist us in rolling out our new brand.”

JLD, President



Bruce Wiseman
President & CEO
On Target Research