The unceasing assault of online media and memes has forever blurred the lines of awesome. Watching high schoolers "do da Stanky Legg" or perusing the cornucopia of homemade black metal videos both create that concurrent pang of embarrassment and sense of approval that culminates in a slow clap, an approving head nod, and a hearty "Well played, ol' chap" muttered to your computer screen. It's so bad, so over-the-top that it becomes good once again. It's half awesome and half awful; it's awfsome.
No video du jour spawns this feeling of awfsomeness more than The Battle for Milkquarious, the 20-minute online rock opera about an frizzy-haired, aging rock god named White Gold fighting for justice and his girl Strawberry Summers on the faraway planet of Milkquarious. Catch the theme? Yes, this is a innovative breed of advertising released last week by the California Milk Processor Board and agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (the "Got Milk" guys).
We've seen White Gold before, hawking moo juice with his space-rock outfits and a Nuge-styled stache, but never to this capacity. And it's kind of great. The cast of characters could be ripped from a drama class production: the evil Nasterious, jealous of Calcium City's milk; the mystical Uni-pega-cow Bovina of Curdvana; and the Pez-toothed, bad hair beasts. Milkquarious' awfomosity is everpresent and, most importantly, viral ready.
The soundtrack rivals the infamous Pizza-Hut Taco Bell song for catchiest product placement of the year. "Almost As Beautiful as Me" pitts Chromeo vs. Olivia Newton John and the "Have You Seen My Muscles" rap battle between White Gold and his chocolate milk-drinking, Andre 3000-esque buddy Jug Life is an cartoon special brought to life. Creators cite cult films 'The Apple,' 'Tommy' and 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' as influence.
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The CMPB focuses the campaign on the teen market, and presents a contest to high schools across California: Recreate scenes from the movie and win $50,000 for your school's art, music, and drama programs. It could be a good deal for schools that have jettisoned culture studies, or an clever way to advertise under the guise of social consciousness. But as ad critic Dan Neil asks, "Does milk even need an advertising campaign? There is never enough of it around when a kid is in the house."
But regardless of intent or marketing angle, every minute of Milkquarious is worth a look. After 20 minutes are up, you won't believe you watched the whole thing. It's a little Zoolander, a little Tenacious D, and it's totally awfsome.
Is it art or advertising? Is it awesome or awful? Let us know in the comments: