Big Dairy – more specifically, the Milk Processors Education Program – has a hefty advertising budget. Roughly $70 million a year, to be quasi-exact.
Most people are familiar with their “Got Milk?” campaign, but largely unaware of “Get The Glass”, their ‘advergaming’/'edutainment” online interactive adventure (which, from the looks of it, was certainly not produced on a shoestring budget).
I came across the game this past weekend, but “Get The Glass” has been around since 2007. At the time, Steve James, Director of the California Milk Processing Board, explained:
“We want people to imagine what it would be like if milk really was this scarce and how that would change the way we think about it.”
Very well, then.
The premise of the game is simple. The Adachi family is “struggling to overcome a staggering predicament: life without milk”. Their numerous illegal attempts to get their hands on cow juice have garnered them the status of highly-wanted fugitives.
Your job: help the Adachis “break into Fort Fridge and get the glass”, all while completing mini-challenges and outrunning the police. Depending where on the board you land, you also answer milk-related trivia or draw ‘fortune’ and ‘misfortune’ cards.
It sounds innocuous enough. “Family-friendly”, if you will. At its core, it’s a visually stimulating dice-based board game. On a deeper level, it is dairy industry propaganda that attempts to pass off ‘a life without milk’ as one that brings a myriad of health consequences.
Each of the four characters faces a specific dilemma as a result of not being able to drink milk. Let’s review:
Walter Adachi (Father)
While Mr. Adachi’s predicaments are not as prominent as those of the other members of his family, his mini-challenge requires the player to navigate the family van through some twists and turns since “without milk, Walter doesn’t get the help he needs to rebuild his muscles and can’t steer the van.” Yes, a grown man is unable to operate a steering wheel since his dairy-free existence has apparently caused his muscles to atrophy.
Tad Adachi (Son)
Not only have Tad’s muscles also apparently atrophied without milk, he is also unable to eat since the lack of calcium in his diet has resulted in an abundance of cavities, making it extremely difficult to chew. Tad does not have his own mini-challenge, but he is featured in many of the fortune and misfortune cards:
Fortune: Basketball coach gives Tad a backpack (without milk, Tad’s muscles can’t rebuild and he can’t carry his books).
Fortune: Tad doesn’t have milk to help his muscles rebuild after gym class. Luckily, the cheerleading captain offers to carry his books.
Fortune: Tad gets leftover soup so he doesn’t have to chew.
Misfortune: Tad’s teeth are sore from chewing with cavities.
Takeaway Lesson: a lack of milk turns you into a wimp who has no choice but to subsist on mush? No. More like, “leave it to Big Dairy to pass off protein and calcium as exclusive nutrients”.
Mrs. Lynn Adachi (Mother)
Prepare to cringe. Mrs. Adachi’s entire story arc is that she is experiencing many bothersome PMS symptoms. Her character’s mini-game requires that the player “keep Lynn under duress even though she is irritable from symptoms of PMS” by selecting non-confrontational, complimentary statements to keep her in a good mood (screenshot below).
One ‘misfortune’ card involves Mrs. Adachi “over-reacting at a jackalope” (get it? She’s moody and unpredictable!), while one ‘fortune’ card allows the player to move two spaces forward because Mrs. Adachi’s favorite song came on the radio and she is “suddenly” in a good mood.
Sexist drivel aside, it’s interesting this has remained a significant part of the game following last Summer’s PR debacle which led to the Milk Processors dropping its then-new PMS campaign after just 11 days, following severe consumer backlash.
Big Dairy appears quite obsessed with the idea that milk helps alleviate PMS symptoms (they devoted an entire campaign to it back in 2005). This, by the way, is based on a small number of research studies which concluded that “a high intake of calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of PMS. Large-scale clinical trials addressing this issue are warranted.” Leave it to Big Dairy to equate calcium with milk – and milk only.
Melissa Adachi (Daughter)
In the case of the youngest Adachi female, the problem has to do with her looks; specifically, her hair. Wow, Big Dairy, way to reduce women to PMS-ing, vain caricatures! Melissa’s mini-game requires players to “disguise Melissa’s unhealthy hair [with flowers] to avoid visual recognition”.
One ‘misfortune’ card states that “Melissa doesn’t have milk to help promote healthier hair, so a bird gets stuck in her mane”, while another involves Melissa ordering too many wigs and affecting the family’s finances. This milk-less existence has also taken a toll on Melissa’s nails (one fortune card informs us that she was able to purchase press-on nails).
Does that make nutritional sense, though? The strongest links between nutrition, hair, and nails include:
- Omega 3s (not in milk)
- Vitamin C (not in milk)
- Protein (yes, in milk, but also plentiful throughout the entire food supply)
- Iron (not in milk)
- Selenium (not in milk)
- Biotin (in milk, but also in carrots, chard, legumes and berries)
- Calcium (in milk, but also in almonds, most commercial non-dairy beverages, some beans, and some leafy greens).
So, yet another example of Big Dairy’s hype and fact-twisting.
Entertainment? Sure. Education? No.
The game also features “Mastermind” spaces on the board, where trivia questions and brain teasers pop up. Of course, everything is painted with the same obnoxious “a life without milk is no life at all” brush. The ‘word unscramble’ mini-challenges, for instance, ask you to find words like tooth decay, bloating, weeping, bicep, lift, strong, flex, stacked.
Perhaps for the next go round they can add rBGH, corn feed, CAFO, and antibiotics?