Fonterra’s Retro-Ads – Not Cool

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Fonterra’s retro inspired new ads seem to have backfired. Their graphic simplicity has created a remarkable canvas for anti-dairy campaigners to alter the pro-dairy message using paint or printed out letters. “Cool Again”, only requires a three letter change to read “Cruel Again”. “Just Chill” has been altered to “Just Cruel” and “Butter is Back” to “Butter is Bad”.

Other alterations include thick globules of blood dripping from the image of the pure white milk bottle.

The message is clear. Many people in New Zealand are growing increasingly out of love with dairy. Perhaps that explains the almost defensive posture the ads begin with. Why try to tell us dairy is cool again? When was it ever uncool?

Well, let us count all the things that are uncool about dairy.

Dairy is uncool because of its environmental impact. Surely nobody can escape the increasing publicity about pollution of swimming holes, rivers and lakes. What about the water bourne illness in Havelock North? It is odd that the inquiry around this deliberately avoided the dairy sector.

Then there are the agricultural emissions that contribute to climate change – by a massive fifty per cent! And there is “no quick fix” to that says our climate change Minister Paula Bennett.

Dairy burns coal to make milk powder. It also imports palm kernel extract (PKE) to feed to the vast numbers of cows. This is a by-product from an industry that is destroying tropical rainforests and all the beautiful animals that live in them. What a sad legacy for future generations. A burnt planet with no wild animals. But hey – we still have ice cream, coffees, and chocolate sundaes. For now, anyway.

Dairy is uncool because our over-reliance on it as an industry means our economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in global markets. It also leaves debt-ridden farmers struggling.

Dairy was also uncool when SAFE and Farmwatch screened footage of helpless, defenceless calves being hurled across concrete and bludgeoned by a stone-faced abattoir worker in 2015. And it was definitely uncool when a picture of a calf being dragged by his foot from his mother aired in the recent expose by Farmwatch in 2016.

And who can forget the footage that aired recently of the mother cow being dragged by hip clamps with her face in the mud? Her dead baby lay metres away.

Yes, dairy is cruel and it hurts cows and young innocent calves who were born to die. They were born to induce lactation in cows so humans can take their milk and advertise it as “cool”.

So maybe that is why Fonterra has engaged in time travel – back to a time before dairy was ever questioned.

Using a nostalgic approach, they conjure up images of 1950s style milk bars and a time when life was simpler and purer. It was once never questioned that New Zealand’s role in the world was to produce milk and meat for the mother country. What a strange reversal of maternal care-giving – the infant country suckles the mother.

But that is the point isn’t it? Milk is not just an innocent white substance that we think has certain nutritional benefits. It is high in saturated fats and cholesterol and is associated with the worst aspects of the Western diet. To make matters worse it is now being exported and aggressively marketed to non- Western countries now experiencing obesity problems for the first time.

Well, bovine milk is designed to grow a baby calf into a huge 500 plus kilogram animal in a short period. It kind of figures that it’s not going to be included as a main component of a Weight Watcher’s diet.

The myth of dairy being good for bones was busted in a 2005 review published in Paediatrics which demonstrated that milk consumption does not improve bone density in children. Dairy has also been linked to prostate and breast cancer.

There is a moral and ethical problem of cruelty and greed at the basis of our culture that we need to acknowledge if we are ever to truly progress as a society. Milk production is cruel, unsustainable and has questionable health benefits for humans.

How uncool is that?

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