Back when Michael Bay was still just a young, up-and-coming director, he got his work where he could find it. The early Bay-days saw him shooting music videos, making a name for himself as the auteur responsible for translating the music of Vanilla Ice, Winger, Aerosmith, Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Styx, and Donny Osmond to television. But, during this period, Bay also directed another, even more essential piece of ‘90s culture: The very first “Got Milk?” ad.
In 1993, before he had both Nic Cage and Sean Connery in his rolodex, Bay led actor Sean Whalen (Twister; Tammy And The T-Rex) in his unforgettable performance as “Alexander Hamilton Scholar Who Eats Too Much Peanut Butter And Can’t Answer Alexander Hamilton Trivia.”
The ad sees Whalen’s character sitting around a studio loft/Hamilton museum slopping peanut butter all over a piece of bread. He wedges the “sandwich” into his mouth as he hears a radio contest promise to award $10,000 to the caller who can answer the question, “Who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?” (Because this commercial is stacked with talent, the radio DJ is voiced by Rob Paulsen.)
Surrounded by artifacts of the duel, mind buzzing with gunshot sound effects as images of Hamilton and Aaron Burr memorabilia flicker across the screen, Whalen’s character tries to answer the question but can’t because he’s suffering from a dire case of “peanut butter mouth.” The DJ can’t understand his answer and he reaches in desperation for a carton of milk to clear his gob. It’s empty. “Got milk?” the ad asks, chilling all would-be trivia winners to their bones.
Bay and his collaborators would later go on to win multiple awards for their work on the ad but time would forget his contribution to the project, distracted by flashy Hollywood movies featuring major celebrities, multi-million dollars budgets, but, ultimately, not enough calls for viewers to slam pints of cow juice for our preference.
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