Why would a commercial about California cows be shot in New Zealand? At least one state lawmaker found that to be udderly ridiculous when he heard about an ad produced by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB).
It seems producers of the Happy Cow commercials flew the 6800 miles or so over to New Zealand because it was cheaper they argued, and the smartest use of dairy farmers' funds. A CMAB advertising executive told the L.A. Times that the board was exercising its "fiduciary responsibility to spend the (the dairy farmers') hard-earned dollars as efficiently as we can" and that it was a "minor portion of production. " And furthermore, the cows that are identified as California in the ads will be actual California cows.
The CMAB argues that the situation is being blown out of proportion and defended themselves in a press release calling it : "Setting the Record Straight: We carefully considered all options for producing this round of commercials and the business decision was made to save money on the commodity end of the TV commercial production cycle – shooting of non-Californian cows on a soundstage – to help save the industry so that it can continue to produce the top quality dairy products that consumers have come to expect."
The board goes on to explain the crew spent 4 days in New Zealand , which they say adds up to only 10% of the entire production.
But the CMAB is supervised by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and as far as Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is concerned that's not the smartest way to use the people's money. He says there is a very "basic philosophy, that hard earned tax payer dollars, public funds... should go to help retain and create jobs in California."
The CMAB's website even has a section about how "California Cows Live Happy All Year Long. California dairy producers make sure their cows are kept cool with misters and in the winter, they are often washed in the barn with warm water to help them relax."
Lieu whose district includes, Torrance, West L.A., and Venice says he's been very supportive of the California film industry by creating and passing tax credit legislation to make it affordable to film in the state. "It's crazy to go to another country to do one of the things we are known for," he adds.
So Lieu proposed AB 1778, which requires all promotional commercials made on behalf of the State of California and paid for wholly or in part with public funds must be produced in California. The state assembly didn't take long to chew that one over and passed it, now it's on to the state senate. Lieu says the Milk Advisory Board is not challenging his legislation.