Yoplait Yogurt Historical Analysis

The Yoplait Yogurt advertisement above features a young woman bumping around from a locker room to a beach in an uncomfortable manner as she attempts to hide her body with a water raft. She releases the raft, exposes her body and reaches inside her bag to reveal the Yoplait Yogurt product, which supposedly was responsible for this perceived confidence.

The Yoplait ad displays many qualities commonly found in a contemporary ad. With the food market probably being a competitive one for something like yogurt, which isn’t a meal, or even a basic necessity, the advertisement must aim to put yogurt on the radar of consumers. Competing for attention, the advertisement utilized an upbeat catchy song, “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini,” which gave a dose of humor and made viewers remember the commercial. The usage of a soft sell technique positions the yogurt as a product that will elicit a positive emotional response. As evidenced by the woman’s smile and look of satisfaction after eating the yogurt and feeling confident enough to wear her bikini on the beach, this commercial indeed sought to reach viewers through a soft sell, more commonly used in contemporary society. Of the two functions frequently utilized in advertisements, the fact that this one plays on social values of health, diet and self-image would make the transformational function applicable here.

A highly relevant concept here is that of the construction, following and maintaining of lifestyles. The transition from a collective, group mentality popular in traditional societies to an independent, individualistic one in a modern setting, witnessed the creation of lifestyles. Unlike traditional, pre-industrial societies in which the most basic necessities were the only concerns for consumers, modern society allows people to focus on themselves and their consumer subjectivities. Through the purchase and usage of one good versus another, an individual makes a statement about oneself, while building a specific lifestyle catering to one’s needs, routines and habits. In a post-traditionalist society, such as ours, people would purchase Yoplait Yogurt because the advertisement suggests it aids in weight loss, the maintenance of a healthy diet, and increasing self-esteem. The lifestyle this advertisement relates to is one of a healthy diet, potentially a fit and active frequent routine, and a strong sense of self-awareness and self-image. To follow a particular lifestyle requires consistency of purchases that are relevant and useful, as well as a continuous consciousness of one’s self and the transformation one is constantly applying to his or her self-identity.

This links to the notion of therapeutic ethos, the idea that advertisers and products gratify and fulfill consumers’ needs and desires, as well as insecurities and anxieties, with goods. Advertisers take on a curative role, bettering the lives of consumers through commodities they lead them to believe are necessary. In this advertisement, a viewer would see this yogurt and consider it a solution to a weight or self-image problem. Buying the product may bring the consumer relief and aid in trying to solve whatever the related problem may be. In fact, the entire concept of the actress’s fear of showing her body on the beach is rooted right in an insecurity regarding body-image. In the context of the therapeutic ethos, the yogurt essentially provides a solution to this problem, therefore “fixing” the consumer.

The meaning of a message also goes unnoticed without the elaboration from cultural intermediaries. The yogurt may simply come off as just that—a snack or light meal. However, with cultural intermediaries who attach meanings to products and describe what they can do for the consumer, the simple snack transforms into a snack that can help one stay thin and acquire that confidence which may originally seem a term completely unrelated to yogurt.

In conclusion, the Yoplait Yogurt ad utilizes many contemporary tactics to produce an effective commercial. The notion of the therapeutic ethos and the concept of lifestyles are two highly relevant concepts that came into play after focus regarding the consumer’s needs and wants transformed. In the larger framework of a historical context, the traditional society’s group mentality melted away and the concept of one’s self-identity came into play as the advertising world began to change their tactics to suit the need for independence.

— Victoria O.


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