I often find myself with a lot of questions after watching certain TV commercials: Why did they use that song? How did they choose those actors? What is a puppy-monkey-baby? Recently, I watched a Yoplait commercial and thought, “What does yogurt have to do with France?”
Last year, Yoplait put a few new commercials out, featuring a tiny brunette bouncing around various flavor- and color-coordinated settings. The voice of a French woman celebrates that Yoplait now has 25% less sugar while the actress eats yogurt that matches the walls. The ads are whimsical and well done, and if you replaced the voiceover with some light instrumentals, you’d think you were watching a Wes Anderson trailer.
To answer my previous question, Yoplait was created by two French farmers in the 1960s. The agency behind the ads, Wieden + Kennedy, told Adweek they chose to take the French route because it “made us feel like we could deliver these very simple and straightforward messages around Yoplait having 25 percent less sugar in a pretty unique way that was true to the brand's history.” Regardless of its French roots, Yoplait’s choice to use a foreign language in their commercials was interesting and strategic. I don’t even eat yogurt and these commercials make me want to buy some of that 25% less sugar Yoplait. And when I really think about which commercials I find memorable, most have some foreign culture element- like a catchy French tune, an old Italian woman cooking pasta sauce, or a Japanese family buying a faux lion’s mane for their golden retriever.
So what is it about including another language, culture, or country in an advertisement that makes it more alluring and, possibly, more effective? When the company's country of origin is outside the US, staying true to their roots makes sense. If I’m buying pasta, I would rather buy “The Choice of Italy” (Barilla) than “The Pasta That Calls America Home” (Ronzoni). If I see a commercial for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I get more excited if I hear a British voiceover than an American one. It doesn't necessarily matter if the product is better than its domestic competition, I am more likely to buy the product and enjoy the ad because it seems trustworthy and authentic.
Before seeing the Yoplait commercials, I had no idea the brand had French origins. Knowing the brand’s history not only legitimizes the advertisements, but makes them more charming. If I were in the market for yogurt, these ads would probably make me choose Yoplait over another brand. Ultimately, customers value authenticity, so brands should embrace their roots.
Adweek article referenced: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-wk-gets-yoplait-back-touch-its-adorable-french-side-165140