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“Got Milk?” Campaign, 20th Anniversary

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Oct 25th, 2013. Artwork published in 2013.
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Source: http://goodbysilverstein.com. License: All Rights Reserved.

The “got milk?” campaign, whose tagline may be the most fondly recalled in beverage history, is turning 20 years old*. To celebrate, we’re hosting a “pop-up gallery show” at an art gallery in San Francisco this Friday. We will be displaying items from the campaign’s 20-year history. People who helped make the campaign as well as our friends from The California Milk Processor Board will be on hand.” — Goodby Silverstein Partners

Oversimplifications of the history abound. Here’s what really happened: Jon Steel and Carole Rankin were at a focus group when the clouds parted and a woman said, “The only time I even think about milk is when I run out of it.” Goodby scrawled “got milk?” on a poster board for a meeting and decided it might be a tagline. And Silverstein set it in that typeface that has by now been appropriated (“got ____?”) by lots of junk, donuts, wine and Jesus folks. — Adweek

That typeface is an otherwise forgotten ATF release from 1935: Phenix American. Perhaps Silverstein was lured to the design’s distinctive ‘k’. The uppercase — which reveals the heavy Art Deco stylings of the typeface — was rarely (if ever) used, but they trotted it out for the anniversary party invitation below.

Phenix (as it was originally known) was issued in metal as a single weight. In 2011, Steve Jackaman and Ashley Muir of the Red Rooster foundry expanded the family to four weights for their Phenix Pro.

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Source: http://www.adweek.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Source: http://goodbysilverstein.com. License: All Rights Reserved.
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Specimen of Phenix (the name by which it was originally known) from ATF’s A Supplement to the Book of American Types, 1941.

Source: https://archive.org. Scan by Dr. David M. MacMillan. License: Creative Commons Attribution.
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Specimen in a catalog from Southern New England Typographic Service, ca. 1950s.

Source: http://www.flickr.com. Scan by James Puckett. License: Creative Commons Attribution.

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