California News

CA 'Happy Cows' upstaged by NZ bovines

Friday, November 13, 2009

Some of California's famous "Happy Cows" are being put out to pasture for bovines that will work for much less money and are probably younger, maybe even cuter -- a move so typical of the cruel world of Hollywood.

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A series of 10 new ads for California milk products will be partly shot halfway around in the world in New Zealand.

"They'd rather do all the business here with the state of California, but it's just far too costly to do some of the advertising work they want to do at home, so, they've got to farm it out," Western United Dairymen spokesperson Michael Marsh said.

The California Milk Advisory says it will continue to use California cows for the parts that talk about California cows.

The other roles, though, will go to New Zealand cows because the scripts call for unhappy cows.

In this recession, what is an unemployed cow to do?

"It is a tough time out there for cows and they need the work, so whether it's producing dairy or producing ads, their loyalty should be to California cows," consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow said.

Runaway productions have been a problem for California, as other locations lure crews away with huge tax breaks.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger included a $100 million tax credit to keep films and TV shows and their jobs in the state, but it does not include commercial work.

The governor's office said in a statement: "Obviously, the governor prefers that everyone produce all their films, television and other projects in California."

California dairy farmers have been struggling in this recession with 10 percent shutting down recently, so wiser spending on advertising is important to the industry.

But Yarrow thinks it is a mistake to try to sell great, local, natural products while turning elsewhere to help communicate that message.

"For whatever small amount of money they might be saving shooting in New Zealand, I think the cost to their image is great," she said.

The Milk Advisory also points out post-production will be done entirely in California, where there will be six to eight weeks worth of work for each commercial.

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