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Becoming a Star the Milky Way

April 11, 1999|BOOTH MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beer may be the first drink that comes to mind when thinking about college students, but at UCLA on Tuesday the beverage of choice was milk. The "Milk, Where's Your Mustache?" campaign stopped at the Westwood campus as part of a 50-school tour to educate college students about the health benefits of milk--and give them a chance to appear in one of the famous advertisements in a future issue of Sports Illustrated.

"Milk is the one beverage most college students leave at home when they go away to school," says campaign spokeswoman Tracy Naden. "Since the college market is a hard target for us, we come directly to campuses."

More than 100 students signed up for a shot at having their mugs in the ads. Each was given a vanilla ice cream milkshake to swig in front of the camera (the real ads use a less appealing concoction of sour cream and other dairy products). The winning photograph will be chosen by an anonymous committee at Bozell Worldwide, the New York advertising agency that produces the campaign.

"I would love to be in one of the ads. I flip through magazines just to see the new faces they are using. The captions are very witty, too," says freshman Daniella Eisman.

Since 1994, the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board has spent more than $110 million on high-profile ads featuring celebrities such as Dennis Rodman, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Spike Lee, all sporting frothy white milk mustaches. Whether the expensive campaign has helped to sell milk is a matter of debate. According to a study by the board, college athletes are the only ones making the grade when it comes to drinking enough milk. Ninety percent of athletes drink milk every day, while non-athletes consume less than half a glass per day.

Milk drinkers or not, teenage collectors can't get enough of the ads. The Milk Mustache campaign booth was a hot spot at a fair held on homecoming weekend at UCLA last year. "People were storming the booth and tearing down the posters of the Tyra Banks ad," says senior David Tuckman. At Tuesday's event, students stood in line to have Polaroid photos taken with life-size placards of Banks and John Elway, both mustached with milk.

Campus dietitian Sheri Albert hopes the college campaign will raise awareness about the importance of calcium. "Since people stop building bone at about age 30, it's especially important that college students have three to four servings of calcium each day." Albert says many students who are trying to watch their weight don't realize they can get the same calcium and protein from nonfat milk as from whole milk. Nonfat milk has about 85 calories per serving, while a glass of whole milk has about 165.

Times staff writer Booth Moore can be reached by e-mail at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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