I am obsessed with… a yogurt commercial??

It’s Dr. Seuss meets Joni Mitchell. It’s Alan Ginsberg goes Chiat/Day. WTF, LOL, OMG and all those acronyms.

I am obsessed with… a yogurt commercial??

First, let me state: I hate yogurt. Oh, I try it every once in a while to make sure I still hate it. And maybe once in a while when I get an urge to be “healthy” because I like the idea of yogurt – and herbal tea – but it always makes me gag unless I get the kind with all the artificial flavors and colors and preservatives and that kind of defeats the purpose of “healthy”. So, I am not a yogurt fan.

I am, however, a huge fan of this yogurt commercial. Not since the Old Spice guy announced he was on a horse have I paid this kind of attention to a commercial. And not since “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” – and you know how long ago that was, I was in high school – have I wanted to memorize a commercial.

You must, must see this. You do not, of course, have to buy the yogurt.

Plain was the same as it ever was the same.
Plainly plain…
Samely same…
But then…someone lit the flame.
Plain rode away on lion’s mane.
Where plain met fruits with strangely names.
Such wonderful things they did contain.
A shot of life to a hungry vein.
The captive beast who broke the chain.
And there upon that fruited plane,
is where plain became what plain became.
So much more than more than plain.
Plain will never be the same.

The ad is by Mullen Advertising of Boston (and Winston-Salem NC, NYC, and a few other places). Tell them what you think of it.

Addendum 3/9/11: Today I was lucky enough to talk to Brian Tierney, SVP/Creative Director at Mullen Advertising in Boston and copywriter for this ad. Thank you, Brian, for taking the time to speak with me! Here’s the overall process he described:

The client, FAGE, is a family company very familiar in Greece but this was their first venture into North American markets. They were looking for some way to define “Plain Extraordinary” – something different to distinguish them from all the other yogurts out there, especially the new influx of Greek style yogurts (those of us who watch cooking shows have known about Greek yogurt for decades, but until recently it’s been a specialty item often mimicked by draining unflavored yogurt overnight through a coffee filter). Brian was glad to have a client who wanted to do something beyond someone eating a spoonful of yogurt and smiling, so he started with a journey from Plainly Plain to Plain Extraordinary. A major influence was “The Rowing Song” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (not Dr. Seuss as I’d supposed), since it involved both a trip and a playful cadence and an acceleration, like a galloping horse or a train picking up speed (Brian’s formal background may be in business, journalism and advertising, but there’s a poet in there). Visuals were then added (they gave the directors some idea of what they wanted, but also some freedom to match image with script) and the spot was born. Brian’s very happy with the spot, and he’s gotten a lot of feedback.

Have sales increased? Who knows. But it’s a lot better than Jamie Lee Curtis.

37 responses to “I am obsessed with… a yogurt commercial??

  1. What a great commercial! The opening images of yogurt as ripples and waves remisniscent of the ocean are amazing. I love yogurt but haven’t been able to eat it since ’97 when I discovered I have lactose intolerance…this commercial makes me want to try it again even though I know it would be disastrous. Thanks for sharing.

    • To “Lee said:” Any yogurt (almost all) which contains active and live bacterial cultures is a good source of calcium for many people with lactose intolerance. When this type of yogurt enters the intestine, the bacterial cultures convert lactose to lactic acid, so the yogurt will be well-tolerated due to a lower lactose content than yogurt without live cultures.

    • Hi Lee, I can’t do dairy either, and I’ve found solace in cultured coconut milk by So Delicious. You’ll most likely find that at Whole Foods. It’s dairy AND soy free. Several fruit flavors, plain, vanilla and chocolate. Yum. A bit expensive, so I consider it a treat every once in a while.

  2. Ugh. I LOVE this yogurt but leave the room when this commercial comes on. I know a lot of money was spent to make this and I appreciate the creative effort but it is so overdone. And at one point, where the woman’s hair flows out, she looks a corpse. And seriously, if I hadn’t had this yogurt before, I probably wouldn’t bother to try because the ad is such a turn off.

    • Hi, Thanks for chiming in! I think it appeals to a certain sense of absurdity, for me at least. But you aren’t the only one who hates it – the website is full of people who feel like you do.

    • I completely agree. I love good commercials, love Fage yogurt (especially with some pomegranate seeds) but man do I hate this commercial.
      I wish I liked it and could appreciate the artistic effort that went into it. Reading the lyrics here – I feel like a Neanderthal for not liking it. When the commercial comes on, I stop and think about how expensive that much air time is, and how much opposition the creator must have encountered in getting this approved by the decision makers. Yet still, I dislike this commercial enough that I have run back to the TV from the kitchen just to fast forward. I’m so glad I’ve been eating this yogurt for years, or I’m sure I also wouldn’t try it out of principle!

    • Wow i really cannot understand why people dislike the commercial. It’s a mixture of everything that is wondrous and beautiful about seeking adventure in life. So what if it doesn’t scream “THIS IS A YOGURT COMMERCIAL. EAT YOGURT. LOOK AT YOGURT YUM YUM YUM” all the way through. It’s great that art made its way into public life instead of being marginalized like so much of it is.

  3. I like it. Perhaps it’s Willem Dafoe narrating, or perhaps it’s the rhyming poetry, but it strikes me as neat. I’d try that yogurt.

      • I think Dafoe’s voice is what made it for me. It’s pretty unique so it jumped out to me right away, and then the poem… brilliant. I immediately believed it was written by a poetry legend of years past, but this Brian guy really stuck his landing. Excellent execution.

  4. I LOVE this commercial! I just saw it for the first time and rewound several times, to watch again. I wasn’t sure if the poem had been written for the ad or was something else, so I went online to check it out, which led me to your post! It’s great to see such creativity in a commercial. Very captivating!

  5. I loved this commercial–I thought everything about it was exquisite: the music, the narration, the visuals, and the script. Having found out who narrated it and the inspiration behind the visuals, I am still–unfortunately–trying to find out about the music used in the commercial…

    Has anyone obtained any information about it? Whether it’s an original composition for the ad or a sample of an existing piece? I’ve ransacked the internet looking so far, and am still answerless…

    Any information?

    • Hi Eric – of course we have information, that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Oh, wait, it isn’t, but we have information anyway because we’re insane.

      The short answer is: Guy Amitai appears to be the composer of the music.

      The long answer is:
      The Mullen site (the advertising agency) has a link to creative credits at the top:
      “Mullen worked with Psyop – NYC on the production of this spot. Click here to see full creative credits”
      When I clicked on the link, I got a zip file of semi-readable documents in a format I can’t really load, but stripping out the formatting it looked like:

      Production company: Smuggler/Psyop (NYC)
      Composer: Guy Amitai
      Music & Sound Design: Pivot Audio (Amsterdam)
      Audio Post: Audio Engine (NYC)
      Sound Design/Mixer: Rob Difondi

      Then I googled around a bit for Guy Amitai + fage and came up with a nicely formatted Vimeo page that listed the same information.

      If you look hard enough, I’m betting you can find an email address, or at least a website, for Guy Amitai and ask him directly. But I think he’s your guy.

  6. Hello again,

    Thanks for the link to the Vimeo page! I too found the zip file and encountered the same problem, and had only found out last night about Mr. Amitai. Your information has been more than helpful though. Thank you for your time!

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  9. I just saw the commercial on TV two minutes ago and Googled it. It was awesome. and I totally agree about the Old Spice commercial. Thanks for the words!

  10. I love watching this commercial, and thats saying somthing as I normaly change the channel immediately when commercials come on TV because most commercials annoy me so much.

  11. I also love this commercial. And I usually hate commercials, let alone yogurt. This commercial is a transporting work of art. The rhyme scheme made me think of the magical manner of e.e. cummings. I did not expect to see anything as imaginative and innovative as this on my television. I’m not really a person to make comments on blogs or post or share to facebook or e-mail. But this commercial is so amazingly beautiful and inspiring to me that I feel it must be passed on to others. Kudos!

    • Ok, wait a minute, let’s keep a little perspective here. Now, this is a damn fine commercial; I must’ve thought so or I wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble to find out who wrote it (and they are the ones who should get the kudos). But transporting art? Well, ok, if you like. But I think of transporting art as, well, Hamlet. Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Don Giovanni. Or even most of the works I’ve posted on my Online Fiction etc. To Read And Love page. And while I can appreciate art in whatever form it takes, I’ll stick with calling this a great commercial with a wonderful sense of whimsy. When I want to be transported, I’ll turn to Mozart. Or Shakespeare. Or Sam Nam. You, of course, are free to differ. But I think you need to get out more.

  12. I think is is crazy that a yogurt commercial can move me, but the FAGE commercials do just that. It doesn’t even seem right to call them commercials because they seem more like art. Also, I tried the yogurt for the first time yesterday (plain w/ cherry) and it actually lives up to the extraordinary commercial. Very delicious and creamy.

  13. I love this poem. I stop and listen to it whenever it comes on. It is very Seuss-esque. I love whimsical things. I was so curious to know whether it was written for the ad or by a non-affiliated poet and, like the others, found my way here, so thanks! I also agree that the lady looks dead in that image. I hate that part because it doesn’t fit the words at all. I prefer the poem separate from the images. They get a bit too literal for me (though the yogurt turing red when it meet the berries is awesome!). I kinda wish it had been appropriated so I wouldn’t have to call it the Yogurt Poem all the time. 😛 But Congrats to the author! Formidable! 😀

  14. This yogurt taste soooo good in tacos, replace sour cream with it! The commercial was really captivating too, although I had no idea it was a yogurt commercial till the end =P

  15. I can’t get the sublime and simple poem out of my head (gladly!). I’ve read some say it isn’t effective marketing – which is ludicrous, as I personally know at least 20 people that had no idea about Fage until they saw the spot, and then went out to buy some.

  16. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this commercial! Anyone know what happened? I love this commercial, ok ok I’m obsessed with this commercial. Where did it go??

    • Hi Jana – I haven’t seen it in ages, either (though this post gets hits daily, with occasional spikes, so maybe it’s occasionally showing somewhere in the world). I was recently disappointed to see a new commercial for the brand was pretty much your typical boring yogurt ad.

      • I totally agree. I was really disappointed when I saw their typical yogurt ad as well. 😦 Maybe it’ll come back soon!

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