At Long Advertising, International Paper was one of our biggest clients. At the time, the Liquid Packaging Division had created their own artwork to put on the side panels of milk cartons going out millions of K-12 school kids: a sketchy “mascot” called Rudy the Raccoon. Rudy was spokesmammal for health and nutrition messaging. I offered our services to recruit established cartoon character properties in order to provide more influential and inspiring messages. Thus, MilkMedia was born.

MilkMedia was branded as an alternative media company dedicated to promoting health, nutrition, ecology, and positive social values for school age children. At the peak of our distribution we sent out five billion messages on milk carton side panels annually to schools nationwide (we also distributed lunchroom posters and other in-school POP materials). Clients and partners included: Activision, Bratz, Build a Bear, Campbell’s, Cartoon Network, Cranium, Digimon, Disney, Gibson Guitars, Girl Scouts of America, Hasbro, Heinz, Hudson Entertainment, Kraft, Kelloggs, Nintendo, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball, National Football League Play 60, Nickelodeon, Pokemon, PBS, Scholastic, Staples, Sony, Topps, Warner Brothers, Wii and Xbox.

Initially, the side panel messaging used the same cartoon character as spokesthing model. However, older kids were drinking less milk, so we created a new program called MilkRocks! where we recruited pop stars to pitch the messages. We partnered with most of the major and independent record labels for MilkRocks!, landing top talent like Justin Bieber, Corbin Bleu, Cheetah Girls, Demi Lovato, Maroon 5, Miranda Cosgrove. Gloriana, Plain White T’s and Rascal Flatts.

In 2012, we reached a fork in the road with our distribution partner, Evergreen Packaging, who printed and shipped the cartons. They wanted to promote renewable resources, while we felt strongly that the message space was more valuable to kids as a venue to encourage positive values. In our final year, I was in the process of a more ambitious campaign, partnering with Michele Obama’s school nutrition program.

I donated our remaining inventory (billions of impressions) in support of anti-bullying campaigns; a cause near and dear to my heart, as I am the proud father of a too-frequently-bullied, awesome autistic teenage daughter.

You can read more about our daughter’s journey at her blog: Emma’s Hope Book.