Milk

kimono, wearing wooden sandals, standing in front of Mount Fuji, and instead of offering the traditional polite Japanese greeting of Konichiwa, she instead said, “Clo-neechee-wah”?
---The ad pitch and pie were accepted without promises, just compliments for Odo’s effort.

Butting heads with Cousteau

---The Clo campaign has had a few bumps, most notably her 1993 legal run-in with the late undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
---Clo was outfitted in scuba gear, fins and a mask as she swam with a Marine World shark. The offending caption? Jacques Cowsteau.
---While the famous Frenchman was not amused, he eventually realized that Clo meant no harm and the lawsuit was dropped.
---Clo traces her beginnings to the pairing of one dairy and one ad agency -a relationship that started even before she was born.
---In the 1950s, Clover-Stornetta chairman Gene Benedetti was manager of the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery, the entity that eventually became Clover in the late 1970s.
---One day a fellow he knew from around town came calling, looking for business.
Benedetti remembers well his early meetings with Lee Levinger, the fast talking San Francisco ad man who wanted to help the creamery sell more milk.
---To Levinger, that meant billboards. “In 1951, Marin County had just banned billboards and everyone expected Sonoma to do the same,” recalled Benedetti, who received his acquaintance, Levinger, cordially, but without giving him much hope of establishing any long-term working relationship.

Launching 50-year partnership

---At the time, Benedetti and Levinger had no inkling that their conversations about a cartoon cow and a series of billboards -if they weren’t outlawed -would set in motion a partnership that would last 50 years -itself a rarity in the image business.
---“Other agencies have come gunning. But they didn’t get anywhere,” said Clover-Stornetta President Dan Benedetti, Gene’s son. “I can only recall one or two ad agencies ever putting out feelers,” he said, adding, “Our answer is quick and firm. We wouldn’t consider exploring another campaign. That would be disloyal.”
---Dan Benedetti and his brother, Herm, are among seven owner-partners and 16 dairies that make up Clover Stornetta.
---The brothers grew up watching their dad and Levinger work together to build the company’s reputation, first with straight advertising and then with their not-so-secret weapon: Clo.
---The early advertising that Levinger produced for the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery, started off -well, a little boring. Billboards featured sparse text touting milk. Eventually photos of human models and wholesome themes appeared on billboards scattered around Sonoma County.
---It wasn’t until 1968 that Levinger started pushing the cartoon cow, drawn by the agency’s art director at that time.
---Levinger fell in love with Clo’s very first panel, which was captioned, “Outstanding in her field.”
---The only trouble was, Gene Benedetti thought Lee’s cow looked, well, odd.
---“Our board of directors was made up of dairy farmers, men who knew how a cow was supposed to look,” Benedetti recalled, adding, “Lee’s drawing didn’t look like any cow from around here.”
---But the tongue-in-cheek caption appealed to Benedetti and Levinger , who were part of a generation that grew up reading Burma Shave billboards, those roadside sonnets that were revealed sequentially as drivers accelerated toward the last line of a tortured and humorous rhyme that always ended with a plug for shaving cream.

Weaned on Burma Shave

---Gene Benedetti and Levinger were amused by the Burma Shave thigh slappers of the 1940s, such as: “This cream/ Makes the/ Gardener’s daughter/ Plant her tu-lips/ Where she ough-ter... Burma Shave.”
---So they were predisposed to appreciate such “Clo-loquialisms” as, “Christopher Cowlumbus in the Moo World,” or one of the most popular billboards in the history of the Clo campaign, “Tip Clo through your two lips.”
---But to hear Gene Benedetti tell it, at Clo’s debut, all of the cooperative’s dairymen felt the same. They hated her.
---Still, Jack Day, the cooperative’s president, pushed for a trial run. “Thank goodness for Jack Day,” Benedetti said. “Jack said, ‘Let’s just try it. Try one billboard and see how it’s received,’ “ Benedetti said.
---For $2,800 for three months in 1969, the Clo campaign was launched.
---Today, Clo regularly stars on nine Wine County billboards at a cost of up to $4,000 a month. She also appears on about 50 delivery trucks at a cost of $2,000 to $3,000 per truck. Clover billboards have won a wide array of local, national and international advertising industry awards. The most prestigious win came in 1991 when the agency won the top award in the billboard category at the International Advertising Festival of New York -beating out 3,790 entries from 40 countries.
---One of the unique elements of Clo’s campaign is that regular people believe they can come up with an idea for a billboard.
The agency solicited one-liners from just plain folks by placing the request on a milk carton in 1989 learning that once was more than enough.
---“We received 7,481 calls and letters suggesting captions and honestly, some of them were pretty good,” said Anne Vernon, who now owns the Levinger ad agency with her partner, Margo VanMidde.
So what should be the future of Clo?
“What would I do if I ever got my hands on that campaign? N-O-T-H-I-N-G!” said Smith of Foote Cone & Belding.
“The unique thing about Clo is that other campaigns like, Got Milk? and The Milk Advisory campaign are selling the milk. Clo doesn’t have to sell, she just makes people happy ,” Smith said. “How do you beat that?”

New name marks 5Oth anniversary

---To mark the 50th anniversary of working with Clover-Stornetta, the ad agency that created Clo the Cow is renaming itself VeVa Communications.
---The name is taken from the last names of the agency's new owners, Anne Vernon and Margo VanMidde.
---"We felt it was time to update. We wanted a new name to mark that change," said Vernon, who joined the company she now owns in 1995.
---The company was founded in 1951 by the late Lee Levinger and called Levinger & Associates. In 1972, Jim Benefield, a former San Francisco advertising executive, bought the firm. Levinger stayed on for several years to help manage the Clover-Stornetta account with Benefield.
---The firm's name eventually changed from Benefield, Levinger & Associates to Benefield, Levinger, McEndy & Vernon.
---When Benefield retired in 1995, he sold the firm to Vernon. Recently, she invited VanMidde, who had joined the agency in 1990, to become her business partner.
---The agency also represents Calpine, the law firm Lanahan & Reilley and others.

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