NEW YORK: Forty years after they were first conceived, ads on milk cartons are enjoying a new lease of life.

In a bid to reach different markets, brands as diverse as Stouffer's frozen dinners, Cheerios and the makers of a newly-released “Pinocchio” DVD are using everything from half-pint cartons to gallon jugs to persuade milk-drinkers to add cookies, cereals cake mixes and even family entertainment to their shopping lists.

While the early days of milk advertising rested on local brands or even missing children notices, today's milk container has become a serious platform for national brands, said Chris Barkley, president of the advertising company BoxTop Media.

Despite media proliferation, the milk jug is one medium that still reaches the masses. More than 20 20 gallons of milk are produced for each US citizen each year, according to the most recent data from the Agriculture Department.

And while the majority of milk carton ads are skewed towards so-called “affiliation products” such as cookies or cake mixes, non-related brands such as the newspaper USA Today and the TV series “Sid the Science Kid” are now joining the fray.

“A gallon of milk is the place to be if you want to reach moms with large households,” says Barkley.

Recent research by Knowledge Networks, on behalf of Box Top, suggests that large brands adding milk cartons to their media schedule can see sales increases of between 4 and 6%, while smaller brands can record a doubling in their sales.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff