White Lotus actor Aubrey Plaza is being called out for participating in a new advert for Big Dairy.
The campaign sees Plaza sardonically claiming to have invented a new plant-based milk made from wood. However, as the advert progresses, she makes it clear that the drink is neither real, nor milk.
“Is Wood Milk real?” she asks before answering her own question. “Absolutely not, only real milk is real,” seemingly poking fun at the range of plant milks that are now freely available worldwide. To drive the message home, the advert ends with the words “Is your milk real?” on the screen.
The satire-filled campaign was created by the Milk Processor Education Programme (MilkPEP), a marketing firm paid by Big Dairy. The same company came up with the original “Got Milk?” strapline in the 1990s and is now trying to revive the fading popularity of animal dairy with younger consumers.
In a strange twist, MilkPEP has expanded the wood milk “gag” to include social media accounts for the spoof company. Plus, a real website and merchandise such as t-shirts have been created. In the footer, a statement reiterates that the product is fake and that “only dairy milk is real milk.”
It also confirms that the whole thing has been paid for by “America’s Milk Companies.”
Despite affording Plaza the opportunity to play into her recognizable sarcastic trope, the wood milk campaign has sparked criticism. Indeed, the backlash is being leveled not only by Plaza’s own fanbase but also plant-based activists.
Plaza’s milk promotion proves unpopular
Plaza reportedly turned the comments off on a sponsored Instagram post after legions of fans questioned her participation in the pro-dairy commercial. However, followers then left negative comments on unrelated posts where the comments sections are still active.
On other platforms, some are accusing her of being a “dairy propagandist” and generally confirming that milk’s popularity is waning.
Joining Plaza’s fans in condemning the commercial are plant-based eaters and activists. Animal rights organization PETA has left no doubt about its stance on the campaign, calling Plaza’s involvement “disappointing.”
Earthling Ed on Big Dairy’s hypocrisy
Vegan activist Ed Winters (AKA Earthling Ed) took to his YouTube channel to dissect the commercial. In it, he condemns Plaza for being complicit in environmental hypocrisy.
In a scathing video entitled Aubrey Plaza destroys veganism (sarcastically), Winter addresses what he calls the “bewildering shambles” that is a pro-dairy advert being released during Earth Week. He qualifies this by explaining that animal agriculture is a major driver of the climate crisis.
He goes on to unravel deeper hypocrisy within the campaign that centers around Big Dairy’s pledge to plant 10,000 trees, not cut them down to make milk.
Explaining that the dairy sector is a major deforestation motivator, Winters likens the act of planting 10,000 trees to somebody setting a house on fire and then offering the owner a watering can to try to extinguish the flames.
Alt-dairy ads cause controversy too
MilkPEP is not alone in being questioned about the decision to press go on a dairy-related campaign.
Earlier this year, Switch4Good unveiled a series of billboards designed to parody Got Milk’s original imagery of celebrities with cow milk mustaches. In the place of popular media figures stood notorious serial killers sporting milk mustaches above the words “9 out of 10 serial killers grew up drinking milk.”
Some observers were quick to condemn the ads as disrespectful to victims’ families and harmful to the plant-based cause.