3 reasons why Yoplait sucks: Anatomy of a marketing disaster

It’s not often, that a brand does such an incredible marketing disaster that’s just flat out wrong from every possible angle you could look at. But this time, we got the Yoplait disaster with an overwhelmingly sexist marketing campaign. Let’s see why it’s such a fail and why Yoplait’s campaign is so offensive…

What happened?

Yoplait Mexico put out a commercial to “empower” women. It starts with a bunch of women in an irish pub singing an “irishy” (?) tune, and toasting with Yoplait Yogurt. That’s not the offensive part, though. Unless you’re Irish and feel like they’re appropriating your drinking culture.

The trouble comes when the (all white, all slim) cast starts singing. We just summoned the translation Muses, here’s the lyrics in english:

You have to toast to being woman,

You must celebrate if you’re a woman.

You have to toast to being a woman,

Because it’s not easy at all.

[Ed note: Try not to run out to burn your bra after this next part]

Alone at 40, no problem

I travel wherever I want, I’m single.

I spend a fortune in new clothes,

No problem at all.

You have to toast to being a woman,

You must celebrate if you’re a woman.

It’s not easy but it’s so worth it.

I get up in the morning, like my husband

I go out to work, like my husband.

I come back exhausted, like my husband.

But I fix dinner,

You have to toast to being a woman,

You must celebrate if you’re a woman.

Let’s enjoy our life.

Let’s go to the gym, summer’s coming.

We have to do pilates, summer’s coming.

If I don’t feel like it, I don’t worry.

I’ll vacation in the north pole.

My children are the light of my path.

Sweet, cute, good, my little children.

But I can’t hide my excitement,

When they go to school.

[Ed. Note: This is not an issue of bad translation on our part, 
it’s like they truly gave up trying to make sense when they reached this part]

I raise my pleasure, I toast to that

I raise my pleasure, I toast to that

I raise my pleasure, I toast to that

Let’s celebrate being a woman.

The Femmesplanation.

Yes, I just made up that word because I couldn’t find the antonym for mansplaining. Though I did find a pretty sexist “joke” saying it was “nagging”. Anyway, some men have had -Understandably- a hard time grasping exactly why Yoplait’s campaign is offensive or why it’s being called a sexist marketing campaign. Let’s break down the reasons why it’s such a disaster from a woman’s point of view, by the way I won’t even get into why they’re toasting to yogurt (Maybe beer is unlady like?):

It feeds off shallow outdated stereotyping:

It starts off pigeonholing single women into travelling spinsters who spend a shit ton of money in clothes. Then it goes on to define women’s efforts by how they stack up against their husbands, because you can never have a truly sexist marketing campaign unless you also make it heteronormative.

Not to miss out on the chance to also fat shame a little, they continue to imply that you have to work out to look hot on the summer and if you don’t, you can always go to a place that requires multiple layers lest innocent bystanders witness your unseemly not-size-0-body on the beach.

Finally, the mom thing. This would take an entire blog dedicated to solely discussing the subject. But in a nutshell: dear people of the world, being a mom doesn’t automatically rob you of having non-mom characteristics or other non-mom related objectives in lives.

It has no idea who their target is:

Unless they are aiming for the commercial to time travel to the 1800’s, or trying to increase brand awareness among Reddit pick up artists, they have no idea who they’re talking to.

It’s almost as if they received a study by a computer full of insights and they decided to go with them as they were. So we got soulless, stale assumptions instead of actual representations of women. That’s better than the other alternative: They really think this is what their target looks like… cause if that’s the case, guys, just shut it all down. We’ve ruined the world.

Our general feelings towards the campaign

It had indescribably bad timing:

We are not a news agency, there’s no way we can talk about certain difficult topics without sounding callous and superfluous, so let’s make it as short as possible. A few weeks before this campaign launched a 16 year old Argentinian girl was brutally raped and murdered prompting thousands of protesters across latin america to take to the streets and make their voices heard in regards to widespread violence against women. Of course the conversation didn’t just end with what happened to the horribly abused teenager, but all the other victims of violence against women, and how society’s views of women are dangerous and limiting.

So basically, going ahead with this campaign in spite of the context was tone deaf at best, if not outright offensive and condescending.

The Aftermath

So what happened? They took the ad down, made their accounts private, and send out a statement saying that they were misunderstood and their efforts fell short of what they were trying to say. Which is not exactly acknowledging what they did wrong or in any way growing from the conversation.

We still don’t know the ad agency responsible for the thoroughly sexist marketing campaign. But it prompted a conversation about the lack of women in marketing:

  • Did you know only 3.5% of the world’s creative directors were women in 2008? Right now that number’s still disappointingly low at an estimated 11.5% in the US.
  • 70% of young female creatives are working in a 75% male-dominated department.

What most advertising agencies look like

Why is that a problem? Well, 91% of women don’t feel understood by advertisers. And these women make 70%-90% of all the purchasing decisions in the average american household. See where this is going? We keep talking to a seriously big target in an alien language they don’t really care for. This is why sexist marketing campaigns like Yoplait’s disaster efforts keep happening, missing the mark, issuing an empty apology and moving on to the next condescending ad.

Advertising is habit forming, and if we let it be a boy’s club the habits we are forming will be pretty one sided. We (as in: editorial We) praise groundbreaking ads, and talk about innovation on every meeting and awards show shaking the hands or those who achieve the most shocking results. Yet we don’t dare to do the boldest thing we could do right now: include diverse voices

How do we fix this?

Are only women allowed to write and advertise for women? Is no man ever allowed to attempt to cater to a woman’s need? That’s been a discussion in literature and film for quite a while. And the answer is not an easy one. But we should start answering by tackling the lack of women in advertising and not shying away from calling out brands that are indulging in sexist marketing campaigns, like Yoplait has so far. Let’s do something unheard of: Let’s listen to women instead of looking at them through a file full of “insights” and statistics.

Originally published at blog.thesocialus.com.