California milk producers have yanked a widely criticized ad campaign that poked fun at premenstrual syndrome and the way men supposedly suffer from the monthly cycles of their wives and girlfriends.
"Over the past couple of weeks, regrettably, some people found our campaign about milk and PMS to be outrageous and misguided — and we apologize to those we offended," the California Milk Processor Board says on its website. "Others thought it funny and educational. It has opened up a topic that affects women, of course, but also relationships."
Instead of abandoning the campaign completely, the milk producers are extending it by seeking to capitalize on the controversy surrounding it. They’ve put up a new website titled "got discussion?" featuring pro and con views and inviting people to join the discussion.
The original campaign, titled "Everything I Do Is Wrong," directed men to a website that featured pictures of puzzled men and aimed to help them with a color-coded "current global PMS level," a "video apology enhancer" and a "mistake verification system," among other features.
The new site does not shy away from the negative comments generated by the campaign including, "This is an incredibly sexist campaign," and a headline from the Hartford Courant that says, "Wrong: Milk ad campaign blames PMS, insults women."
The website directs users to further discussion on Facebook and Twitter and stands by the board's main assertion that milk "can help reduce the symptoms of PMS," pointing to a 1999 scientific study that linked PMS to a deficiency of calcium.
Rebecca Cullers, a contributor to AdWeek who wrote an editorial after the "Everything I Do Is Wrong" campaign launched, said she was not surprised that the California Milk Processor Board decided to modify the campaign so quickly.
"The fact is, they're pretending that women are completely irrational beings during their time of the month and they're blaming PMS. And PMS has a wide variety of symptoms. It's having back pains, cramps, irritability," she told the Associated Press. "In their mind, it's something to joke about."
The campaign, launched last week and originally scheduled to run through August, included the website, billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and announcements on National Public Radio.
The billboards, which will be replaced next week, showed harried-looking men holding cartons of milk accompanied by tag lines such as "I'm sorry I listened to what you said and NOT what you meant," or "I apologize for not reading between the RIGHT lines."
The Milk Processor Board is overseen by the state Department of Food and Agriculture and is funded by contributions from dairy processors in California, the nation's top milk provider.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.