Pea-based milk brand Ripple has been on a mission to brand itself as the crème de la crème of the non-dairy milk category. To try and prove its superior status, the brand has created an 8-bit game that it hopes will give players a fun and retro way to learn about the health benefits of milk that is made from peas.
Created in partnership with agency VMG Creative, the game prompts players to answer questions like “Should milk shower you in sugar?” and “Should milk be a good source of protein?” After each question, the game serves up facts that explain why Ripple’s products are healthier than the likes of almond, coconut and cashew milk.
For example, Ripple’s “Original” milk has eight grams of protein – the same amount as dairy milk – while almond milk only has one gram (cashew and coconut milk each have zero). The game also points out that Ripple’s milk has slightly less sugar than other non-dairy offerings (Ripple’s has six grams of sugar while cashew, almond and coconut milk all have seven).
Soy milk comparisons are conveniently left out of the mix, likely because soy milk is a non-dairy option that really isn’t all that different from Ripple in terms of health benefits. A quick glance at a Silk Original Soymilknutrition label shows that one serving contains eight grams of protein, six grams of sugar and 45% of your daily calcium, virtually the same as Ripple except for the fact that the latter contains ten fewer calories (although the game does point out that Ripple can serve as a non-dairy alternative to milk for those who suffer from soy allergies).
While the game is largely focused around cementing Ripple’s status as a flavorful and healthier alternative to other non-dairy milks, it also takes a swipe at dairy milk. In the game, Ripple says that its milk has “half the sugar” and “a whopping 50% more calcium” than dairy milk (a claim that’s substantiated when compared to Dean’s – one cup of Dean’s Whole Milk contains 11 grams of sugar and 30% calcium).
Ripple’s criticism of dairy milk is largely in response to a recently proposed bill called the “Dairy Pride Act” that some members of Congress are trying to pass. The lawmakers involved with the bill are arguing that plant-based beverages like coconut and almond milk shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves “milk” since the Food and Drug Administration defines the drink as a “lacteal secretion” that is “obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”
The bill comes as non-dairy milk offerings become increasingly popular. According to market research firm Mintel, sales of dairy milk in the US decreased seven percent in 2015 while sales of non-dairy milk increased nine percent to $1.9bn.
While the proposed bill has surely ruffled some feathers within the milk industry, Adam Lowry, co-founder and co-CEO of Ripple, said he thinks that the brand’s 8-bit game – which is cheekily called “Not Milk?” – brings some “humor and silliness” to the divisive issue. Instead of going with the “everybody go write to your senator” approach, Lowry said that the game allows the brand to take a stance on the issue without taking itself too seriously.
“I feel like a lot of people are being asked to write to their senators about things that are frankly a lot more important, so we didn’t want to go that path,” he said.
Luke Raymond, partner and executive creative director at VMG Creative, echoed Lowry’s sentiment: “From the moment I heard the term ‘lacteal secretion,’ I knew we’d have to find a way to solidify Ripple’s superior position in the market all the while making it fun,” said Raymond. “When the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign was originally launched games looked like this, and the chance to revisit that era for our campaign, keeping it engaging and educational for consumers with a sense of humor was the perfect opportunity.”
Lowry, who also founded the eco-friendly cleaning products brand Method, launched Ripple last year in partnership with Neil Renninger. While Ripple’s drinks are already sold at stores including Target and Whole Foods, Lowry said that much of the brand’s marketing efforts are currently centered on getting people to taste its pea-based milk, which also comes in chocolate, vanilla and unsweetened varieties. Aside from putting on tastings with its retail partners, Lowry said that Ripple offers up its drinks at places where its target consumers are likely to be, like bike races and “mom and baby” events.
“A huge part of our marketing strategy is just to get people to try it,” he said.