As milk sales continue to sour, one of the most long-loved and widely recognizable advertising campaigns in recent memory has announced a sudden about-face.

The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), which was responsible for the iconic “Got Milk?” movement that debuted nationally in 1995, announced yesterday that it would retire the slogan.

In its stead, the organization will introduce “Milk Life,” reports AdAge, aiming to emphasize milk’s nutritional benefits -- most specifically its high protein content. This is a crucial point of distinction as non-dairy milks including soy, almond, rice, hemp and coconut have increasingly cornered the market as healthful alternatives.

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The new $50 million effort helmed by New York agency Lowe Cambell Ewald showcases consumers literally being powered by splashes of liquid milk as they engage in physical activity. “What eight grams of protein looks like,” a narrator describes in one television commercial, as a young boy chases after a soccer ball seemingly fueled by a milk-shaped windmill (see below).

The original “Got Milk?” campaign, on the other hand, was conceived to depict people eating dry or sticky desserts without any milk to wash them down. Over the course of its roughly 20-year run, infamous milk mustaches appeared on the world’s most famous actors, athletes and musicians, from Bart Simpson to Angelina Jolie.

Before that, MilkPEP used the “Milk does a body good” tagline, which is more in line with its current messaging.

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In spite of its renowned campaigns, the Department of Agriculture reports that total milk sales have declined steadily since 1975 -- a trend that even the famous ads have been unable to stem.

For instance, per capita sales of beverage milk have decreased by more than 10 percent since 2000, reports the USDA, and have fallen by nearly 30 percent since 1975.

While MilkPEP will continue to license the “Got Milk?” trademark, the organization is “not 100 percent clear on what role it will play,” interim CEO Julia Kadison told AdAge.

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