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By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

April 21, 2023 | 6 min read

In a tongue-in-cheek campaign, Parks and Rec’s Aubrey Plaza announces the debut of her new alternative milk brand Wood Milk – which is exactly what it sounds like.

Parks and Recreation and White Lotus actor Aubrey Plaza today announced the launch of an all-new alternative milk product: Wood Milk.

Yep, that’s right: the comedy actress is jumping on the dairy alternatives trend. Wood Milk sources maple, cherry, mahogany and hickory lumber from US forests and uses what it calls a “state-of-the-art ‘wood-milking’ process” to create a milk alternative made from a “unique blend of trunks, roots and branches,” per a press release issued today.

“Inspired by the idea that these days you can make milk out of anything – Aubrey looked at a tree and thought – could I drink this? And thus, Wood Milk was born,” the brand said in a statement.

The brand is launching today with a new ad campaign celebrating the delights of Wood Milk. In the spot, a woodsy-looking Plaza – sporting a flannel button-down and a vest – is pictured frolicking around a tree. “We’re certain that our artisanal Wood Milk will be the only milk you’ll want to drink for the rest of your life,” she says. “Why? Because I said so.”

The campaign, created in partnership with Stagwell-owned agency Gale, will span broadcast TV, social media and out-of-home. Plus, to further promote the new brand, Wood Milk will be selling a variety of branded merchandise.

But, as it turns out, the whole shebang is a stunt – Wood Milk is not a real brand or product. The activation was created by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), a milk industry marketing organization funded by milk processors and a national board – and the group behind the iconic ‘Got Milk?’ campaign that ran from the 1990s until 2014.

The group’s latest stunt is an effort to poke fun at the proliferation of milk alternatives on the market – and to underscore its belief that “only real milk is real.”

“Wood Milk is a fun and comedic way to highlight the power of real dairy milk,” Yin Woon Rani, MilkPEP’s chief exec and chief marketing officer tells The Drum. “With zero nutritional value, our fictitious Wood Milk brand is designed to encourage consumers to educate themselves on their beverage options and the differences in the nutritional profiles within.

“As the FDA recently ruled, not all milk is equal when it comes to nutrition – so while you may be able to make milk out of anything, it is important to understand when it comes to being a nutritional powerhouse, only dairy milk is real milk.”

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MilkPEP, under Rani’s leadership, has been on a mission to give the dairy milk industry a fresh, new brand. Last fall, the organization sponsored the popular gaming convention TwitchCon, where it focused on marketing milk as a ‘performance beverage.’

When it came to selecting the right spokesperson for the new Wood Milk campaign, the teams at MilkPEP and Gale felt that Plaza fit the role perfectly. “Every new health and wellness startup needs a famous founder these days. For us, Aubrey Plaza was the only option. Her deadpan delivery and amazing comedic range were exactly what we were looking for,” says Gale’s chief brand and experience officer Winston Binch.

“Thankfully, she loved the concept, and in partnership with her, and Saturday Night Live alums Hannah Levy and Neil Casey, we brought the concept to life in a matter of weeks.”

Despite its derision of the concept of ‘wood milk,’ MilkPEP is supporting American ecosystems – as part of the gag campaign, it’s teaming up with nonprofit environmental organization One Tree Planted to plant 10,000 trees.

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