Tuesday, August 23, 2016

73. Brand Icon: Alaska Milk’s ALASKA BOY (MICHAEL UYTENGSU)

MICHAEL UYTENGSU, was widely believed to be the model of the "Alaska Boy" on the paper label
of the popular Alaska Milk, introduced in the early 1970s,by Holland Milk International, a company established by Michael's father, Wilfredo Uytengsu Sr.

In the early 70s, the Holland Milk Products Inc., a partnership between General Milling Corp. and the Dutch-based Holland Canned Milk International, was established by business magnate Wilfredo Uytengsu Sr. The first product the new company manufactured was a canned filled milk brand called ALASKA MILK.

ALASKA MILK came in tin cans and featured an illustrated close-up picture of a smiling, fair-haired boy in a blue turtle neck on the paper label. The face of the so-called ‘Alaska Boy” would soon become a familiar brand icon, his pleasant looks ingrained in the national consciousness,  helping transform the newbie brand into a formidable player in the Philippine milk market.

TVC 30s here:

The success of the brand was propelled by an aggressive advertising campaign bannered by the slogan “Wala pa ring tatalo sa ALASKA!” and an unforgettable 1974 TV commercial featuring the 1970 NBA draft Israel “Cisco” Oliver who played in the very first season of  the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) . The 6’6” cager was challenged by a young, Alaska Milk-drinking kid, Michael Uytengsu, the son of  Wilfredo Sr., in a “One on One” basketball challenge.

Alaska TVC with Cisco Oliver. 1974.

Michael Uytengsu was also featured prominently in ALASKA MILK print ads, alongside milk cans of both filled milk and condensed milk variants.  People began noticing the striking similarities between the boy on the label and Michael, giving rise to a widely believed story that he is the same “Alaska Boy” on the product label.

ALASKA MILK PRINT AD. Woman's Home Companion. 1975.

Of course, they were two different “people”.  Alaska Milk  Corp., in its website, would clarify the story: “The Alaska boy on the label of some of the Alaska Milk products is an artist’s rendition of a fictional character with brown/ blond hair and blue eyes. This trademark device came with the purchase of the Alaska milk brand from Holland Milk Products Inc (Netherlands). All trademark owners of the Alaska brand use an Alaska boy on their label though the rendition may differ depending on the country”.

 A tetra-packed flavored milk product produced by his father's company.

ALASKA MILK was not the only milk brand that Michael Uytengsu endorsed, he also did print ads for Daisy Milk, a read-to-drink milk brand also from Holland Milk, that came in tetra packs. Eventually, her sister Candice, became the solo model in Daisy Milk’s TV ads.

Michael briefly became the real face of another product--Alaska Quick Cooking White Oats. The product, however was short-lived.

MICHAEL UYTENGSU, today, is a U.S. resident and has a thrivinng
luxury wine business.

In the end, it was only the  “One-on-One” ALASKA MILK commercial of Michael Uytengsu that would attain national fame, now considered a classic in Philippine advertising history.


youtube video: Uploaded by Josh Howard, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3F-20ld720,

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