Destroying American Cultural Norms One 30-Second Commercial At a Time, by Linda Goudsmit.
An attractive young woman sitting at an outdoor cafe appears on the screen. The camera pans left as a heavily accented French male voice-over seductively introduces America to Melanie. Melanie is French and her three lovers sitting together with her at the small cafe table are also French. We are told that Melanie’s lovers will wait for Melanie while she savors the taste of her French yogurt Oui because French girls take their time. The 30 second commercial ends with the Yoplait tagline “Say Oui (yes) to pleasure.” The unequivocal message in this yogurt commercial is Melanie says yes to sexual pleasure with three different men.
So what exactly is Yoplait selling in this commercial? Promiscuity? Group sex? Yogurt? All three?
The advertising industry is notorious for using sex to sell products — but three lovers at one time? This vulgar commercial is a stunning assault on established American cultural norms.
The psychological dynamics involved are extremely manipulative in two insidious ways. First, the advertisers are deliberately shocking American viewers to produce cognitive dissonance. … Television commercials and print ads in Teen Vogue associating promiscuity with healthy yogurt produce coercive cognitive dissonance that is deliberately designed to break down existing American cultural norms.
The second psychological dynamic exploited by Yoplait is that repetition and familiarity produce acceptability. Television (any screen) is the single greatest vehicle for mass social engineering ever invented. So, what is initially shocking becomes increasingly ordinary and accepted if it is repeated often enough. This manipulative yogurt commercial is telling young American women that sex with three different lovers is not only pleasurable — it is acceptable. Young American women are being told that there are no moral restrictions on young French women. The message is that Melanie is sophisticated, worldly, and free to have sex with three different men. Traditional American cultural norms defining promiscuity are being rebranded and marketed as feminist French freedom.
hat-tip Scott of the Pacific