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Arts & Entertainment

got milk?

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein

Lesson time 10:40 min

Jeff and Rich tell the history of the “got milk?” campaign, from the inception of the idea to a detailed behind-the-scenes look at how they shot their iconic ad “got milk?: Aaron Burr.”

Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein
Teach Advertising and Creativity
Advertising icons Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein teach you how to break rules, change minds, and create the best work of your life.
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[PERCUSSIVE MUSIC PLAYING] - Got Milk?, probably one of the most famous things we've ever done here. We'll take you through how it came about, the production process, the thinking behind it. - It's a good story. Stick by. - Tom, can I make a suggestion? You're fired! [HORN HONKING] [ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING] WOMAN: Welcome to eternity. [MUSIC PLAYING] Rivers flow low. - Mm. Heaven! Yes! Hm. Hm. Milk! Wait a minute. Where am I? NARRATOR: Got milk? [PERCUSSIVE MUSIC PLAYING] - It started with a guy named Jeff Manning, who was an account guy that I worked with at J. Walter Thompson. And he became the director of a thing called the California Fluid Milk Processors. And it was like an industry board that was created-- a terrible name, you know. It was created to advertise milk, like in cartons-- not yogurt, not cheese, not sour cream, just plain old milk. - Now milk was for years-- "Milk does a body good." That was the theme line. So you ran a 100-yard dash-- ba, ba, ba, ba, ba-- and that wasn't working. - Everybody knew that milk was good for you, and yet they were not drinking it. So we had to think of, like, a new way to get into this thing. And we had this brilliant planner at our place named Jon Steel. And he was doing a focus group where a woman said, you know, the only time I notice milk is if I run out of it. And he came back to the office, and he said, this is actually pretty brilliant. The absence of the product actually sold the product. It was crazy. OK. So we got our presentation ready. And before the meeting, one of his planners came up to me and said, what should I put on this foam core board where we talk about deprivation of milk? And I said, I don't know. Why don't you put, like, "Got Milk?" with a question mark? And she said, I think it would be better if it said "Got Enough Milk" because that's what we're really talking about here. And I said, no, I kind of like it really short. Just put "Got Milk?" on it. So she put it on, Got Milk?, and put it up there. And we talked about it. But during the meeting I thought, I wonder if that could be a tagline for this. It's so weirdly short and so, like, catchy and so much a T-shirt. When I showed Rich Got Milk? for the first time, he thought it was stupid. He said, that's it? That's it? I said, well, that's what's interesting because it's kind of simple. And he was like, that's it? - That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. That is so clumsy. It was brilliant. My-- my part of that, after he wrote Got Milk?, is that I thought it should have a voice. And I talk to people about typography and how important type has a voice. And a bunch of the young people in the office didn't want-- they just wanted to set it in Helvetica and make it quiet. And Jeff and I intuitively felt it needed an identity. Got Milk? had to have a voice. And so I set this quirky type, you know. I look at a bu...

Create the big ideas of tomorrow

As the minds behind the “got milk?” campaign, the Budweiser lizards, and countless other ads that have permeated pop culture, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein never stop reimagining the possibilities of advertising. Now they’re sharing how they make the beautiful and edgy work that’s seen by millions. Learn how to come up with great ideas, tell funny and compelling stories, and dazzle at your next pitch or presentation.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

re-enforcement of what I've known all along with some pro tips mixed in

Creativity is great but I agree with Leo Burnett when he said: “It's not creative if it doesn't sell."

"Listen to the world around you". Pure gold. Now I have to learn how to listen, deeply.

Opened my mind enough to foster an examination of how I think and feel, how I perceive the world as it changes more and more as each year passes. Encouraged a welcoming stance toward the new in all aspects of life.


Louis G.

I've finished this course and it was terrific. Thanks Jeff and Rich for sharing your insights and experiences. I love the Got Milk campaign, and the Aaron Burr commercial, but I also know that despite almost universal awareness that it didn't change the downward trend of milk consumption at all -- not even a blip. This marketing/advertising stuff is challenging...

Mike E.

So true, sometimes letting go of an idea is the most important and exciting thing you can do! Right now it's all about viral culture and people are letting ideas go all the time, especially over social media, and others are transforming it into the greatest moments of internet pop culture we have ever seen. In just a couple days a dance can go viral on TikTok and become part of a Billboard charting song (Drake - Toosie Slide) which never before was even possible. Important as ever to know when to let the idea go; too soon and someone else writes their name on it, too late and nobody even cares anymore! — J.O.

Gladys P.

Always been curious about the gotMilk campaign, and how it grew to transcend generations and celebrity endorsers to its permanent place now in pop culture. "The absence of a product... sold the product" was an incredible insight, and it came from a simple strategy: listening to a consumer. The end result was a campaign that was resonant and relatable, Kudos!

Sandy P.

Exceptional information. LOVE what I'm already learning in this MClass. I have a first-to-market product that's about to be manufactured, and I've been struggling with marketing and advertising with nearly zero budget. Goodby and Silverstein have completely opened my eyes to the possibilities now. I'm a hobbiest filmmaker with good friends who film professionally, and I'm incredibly excited for the next lessons. My mind is already filled with new ideas...the got milk absence of a product angle was tremendous. Thank you MC for getting these 2 on board with you!

Carolyn S.

the way that first AD starts off is brilliant. The whole thing ... its a story. I found Jeff and Rich's Got Milk typography interesting... one of my favorite things is the way words are designed and appear on a page. That there was a voice identity as part of the campaign was also fascinating. And its so true that a great idea travels. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about that in her book BIG MAGIC - a must read for artists.

A fellow student

I love how the brilliance of the campaign came from listening to the end consumer and relating to everyday experiences.

Tobias M.

‘The absence of the product... sold the product’—I love how their minds work, looking at and through and into the ideas and spaces around an object. It’s a similar thought process to Billy Bays: invert, re-examine.