Got Meth? Robert Benincasa

Robert Benincasa

ENC 1101-10

Joshua Mehler

Got Meth?

When a “Got Milk” advertisement comes to mind, the image of a celebrity or a famous athlete may follow. Similar to the milk advertisements, most ads include an image , a text, and some sort of meaning underlying it. The images in advertisements are what usually attract a certain audience, while the text helps support the image. Companies use athletes and phrases in order to establish a recognizable icon for their consumers. Athletes are commonly used in advertisements because they are held in high esteem because of their perceived infallibility, and can easily manipulate an audience. The meanings behind advertisements are reinforced by the athlete or icon endorsing the product and are responsible for differentiating the product from one that is similar to it. This often determines the effectiveness of the advertising campaign.

The major problem with advertisements, however, is that they do not always include the truth or the “behind the scenes” elements because they are trying to persuade audiences to either buy their product or believe in their ideas. While this can lead to a more effective advertisement, it forces the people within the advertisement to lie, manipulate, and most of all, cover up who they really are. A great example of this is the “got milk” ad with Andre Agassi and his mother. There is nothing wrong with the advertisement itself or the facts it presents about milk. Instead, the problem is with Andre Agassi, the person who is endorsing the product. The message that the advertisement is promoting conflicts with the person that Andre Agassi truly is.

This “Got Milk” advertisement starring Andre Agassi was developed in 1998,only a short time after he won the French Open, and around the same time he tested positive for crystal meth.  At that time, Agassi denied the allegations that he voluntarily used crystal methamphetamines stating that the positive test results were due to a drug that was slipped into his drink. However, in October of this year, eleven years after the allegations surfaced, Agassi openly admitted to using crystal methamphetamines and to lying to the public about the way in which the substance entered his body (Wyatt). After analyzing Agassi’s behavior and his inability to be honest, one might think that the advertisement should have read “got meth” instead of “Got Milk” because the idea of wholesomeness and purity that the “got milk” advertisement is displaying is not congruent with Andre Agassis actions.

General Mills is another example of a company using a prestigious athlete to help promote its product.  The company uses Michael Phelps on the cover of its Wheaties cereal box. General Mills decided to put Phelps on the cover of its cereal box shortly after Phelps made history by breaking the record for the most gold medals won in the Olympic games (Wang). During that time, Phelps was the cover boy for every magazine, appeared in every commercial, was on the front page of every newspaper, and most importantly, was a permanent fixture in almost everyone’s mind. His life seemed to be incredible as he was praised by millions for his athletic prowess. However, this praise disappeared almost completely when a photograph that depicted Phelps inhaling marijuana from a bong leaked to the press. People were shocked. Many of his endorsements were dropped and the support from millions was lost.  Phelps’ actions are not an appropriate representation of the core values that General Mills and its Wheaties cereal build their brand upon, yet he will always be an icon for Wheaties.

Agassi and Phelps are just two of the many athletes that have represented  something by acting in a manner contradictory to the products values of the company their involved with. Mark McGuire, Kobe Bryant, and Sammy Sosa are some other names that have been used to represent a product and have failed to hold up the true morals of the product. The image of the companies that chose these athletes to represent their product suffered the same fate as the athletes tarnished image.

The “got milk” advertisement featuring Andre Agassi is a very successful advertisement. The success in this advertisement lies in the values that it presents. The most prominent value in this advertisement is obviously the love that a family shares. The charming picture with Andre’s mom wrapping her arms tightly around him represents love and happiness in a family. It does not display any problems that can surround a family, instead it focuses only on love and support. The way that his mother is holding him clearly represents a happy relationship between mother and son. She is also dressed in athletic apparel which makes her appear to be a fan of tennis, but most importantly, a fan of her son. This shows how she supports him in what he does and loves him for it. The photo, taken in his back yard on the tennis court, gives the picture a comfortable feel because of the “safe” environment that it represents.

The secondary value that it promotes is health. It does this through the text at the bottom of the page that is supposed to be a quote from Agassi. The quote reads, “When I was a kid, my mom put a tall, cold glass of calcium and eight other essential nutrients in front of me at every meal”. However, Agassi did not actually say this. The line actually comes from the advertising company and was placed in the ad to manipulate others to believe that he did. The purpose of this quote is and its key words is to lure the audience into the false message. The terms kid, tall, calcium, and nutrients all serve as checkpoints in capturing an audience. Agassi probably wouldn’t use such words when describing milk, but the company did this to make the advertisement twice as effective.

A huge reason that “got milk” advertisements are so successful is because they are directed towards several groups of audiences. With a larger audience, “got milk” advertisements can appeal to many different people, which in turn makes the products more successful. Perhaps one of the major audiences that “got milk” targets is mothers. Moms are usually the ones in the household who go grocery shopping and would be most likely to purchase milk for their children. The “got milk” advertisements basically say one thing, “Buy milk and your kids will turn out like these great athletes”. This milk advertisement also directs itself towards mothers by including Andre Agassi’s mother. The picture and the quote at the bottom of the page attempt to get moms to want to do everything they can do to get their kids to turn out like Agassi or other famous people .

The primary focus in the original “got milk” advertisement featuring Andre Agassi is to show that his mother loved him when he was a kid and gave him milk to show that love. As a result, the milk helped him become the man he is today, and encouraged his love for her. Another focus in the advertisement is showing Agassi as an innocent or harmless person, almost like a child. He is in his mother’s arms looking helpless. He is also wearing all white to show his innocence and purity. The anti-ad ad that I have created focuses on how Agassi is not as pure or wholesome as milk. The fact that he used crystal meth and then lied after testing positive does not seem too innocent to me.

My anti-ad will basically be a replica of the original “got milk” ad with just a few minor adjustments. I chose to replace most of the words so that they focused on him using crystal methamphetamines. I also changed the name of his equipment bag from “Head”, a brand that Agassi is sponsored by, to “ Meth Bag” because methamphetamines were once a part of his equipment. One of the biggest things that I changed was the color of Agassi’s clothing. He is now wearing a dark black shirt and shorts to display his guiltiness and wrongdoing. He is no longer viewed as an innocent child wrapped in the arms of his mother, but is viewed as a letdown to many including his own mother. Next to Agassi is a pile of methamphetamines that he is aching to get at, but his mom is holding him too tight for him to break loose.

The audiences that I am attempting to direct this spoof ad towards are those who look up to and believe their role model or idol based on what they see through advertisements. Many kids will grow up believing that their favorite superstar athlete is a great human being because that is how he or she is viewed through the television or billboards, but in reality may be the complete opposite of what they see. It is very important that people, most importantly children, do not follow the negative aspects of certain athletes that choose to make wrong decisions.

In conclusion, companies often use a well known face, such as a famous athlete, to help promote their products in advertisements. This is usually successful for a company as well as gaining a larger fan base for the athlete, but all comes to a crashing halt if a bad decision is made on the athletes part. In the case of the “ got milk” advertisement, Agassi was able to hide from his “mistake” for eleven years before the world knew of it. The fact that he was able to keep it hidden for so long demoralizes his character. He is one that should not be on an advertisement for one of the most wholesome things on the market today.

Works Cited

  1. Wyatt, Ben. “Agassi admits using crystal meth” CNN.

CNN, Oct 28, 2009. Web. Nov 1, 2009.

  1. Wang, Cynthia. “Phelps Wins Eighth Gold, Breaks Spitz’s Record.” People.

People. Aug 17, 2008.Web. Nov2, 2009.


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