Friday, October 17, 2008

Butter and Other Swiss Advertising

Yesterday, one of my favorite blogs, Swiss Story, posted one of the butter billboards that have gone up around Switzerland. I too, had taken a photo of one of these, as upon seeing it on Sunday, I couldn't help but stop and stare. My butter ad, posted below, has, as you can see, already been slightly defaced by another person that also found it inspiring.

Anyhow, for those that haven't read about it on Swiss Story, the translation for the butter ad is: "I eat butter. I don't."

In the image, the preppy guy says he eats butter and the bodybuilder guy says he eats something other than butter (hmm...steroids?). Anyhow, the point of the advertising is that butter is natural and everything else is not.

I'd like to take a moment here to ponder the Swiss obsession with butter. Not just because of these ads, but also, for instance when I asked a Swiss friend who had lived in New York what he thought of the United States, his only comment was, "I couldn't believe the butter."

I thought he meant the prices, since butter here is amazingly expensive (but now we know why--they have to pay for all this amazing advertising). But in fact, my friend was overwhelmed by the amount of butter choices available in U.S. grocery stores. So utterly confused in fact, that he shopped at CVS (a drug store that also has an aisle or two of groceries) during his years in the U.S. so he wouldn't have to face such an overwhelming aisle of fattening goodness.

Anyhow, yesterday at the train station, they were handing out free handy wipes--to advertise a new brand called Desinfect. Of course, I took one since I couldn't pass up one of those rare moments to something free in Switzerland. Everything on the package they handed out was in German except the tagline which read, "When there is no water to hand."

Hmm. Out of the sheer badness of this phrase, I went to the website, and sure enough, this tagline is proudly printed everywhere. Wow. Good for them. I mean, it's not every day you can write something that makes absolutely no sense and get away with printing it on millions of products. I mean, it's so bad, I went that extra step to do that additional research.

Just goes to prove, bad advertising does work. Look at me, I've just wasted a half hour writing about two examples not to mention given them free PR. Ah well, I don't work as the lone English copywriter in Zurich for nothing. Although it looks like I've found at least one more company could use a little of my expertise.


Swiss Ms. said...

I just bought some salted butter today and ate four pieces of buttered bread after walking in the door because it was so good.

I have found cheddar at several Migros(es) in Lugano, so maybe you should have another look around for it! The brand is Cathedral City and it comes in a little square block.

Swiss Ms. said...

Oh, and they have cheddar at the "deli counter" at our Manor.

Chantal said...

Glad you're enjoying your Swiss butter!

Yes, there is cheddar at the Migros in Baden--the Cathedral City is great because it's right on the shelf--no need to order over the counter.

The Coop in Baden has cheddar at the counter.

Tom said...

I went to my local bakery here in zurich once and was surprised to see that they offered two types of Butter Croissant, both named Butter Gipfeli.

One was a great looking crusty, puffy monster of a croissant, baked a pale yellow color and looked pretty nice. Cost, say, 2.00 Chf.

The other was a standard, DIN-normed, polystyrene thing that was bronzed and unnatural looking. E.g. your typical Swiss croissant. And it cost, say, 1.40 Chf.

So I ask the assistant: what, other than the price, is the difference? The answer? "This one is healthy and natural and made with butter and the other one is full of transfats and you don't want to know what else." I kid you not.

Chantal said...

Wow, thanks for your comment Tom, that is really interesting! To think such care goes into some croissants and not others...

alanrogers said...

Sorry to be a nuisance, but speaking as an English editor of 40-odd years experience (and some have been very odd!), we English English speakers use 'to hand' to mean 'within reach' or 'handy' in the 'easy to get at' sense. So what's wrong with the ad-speak slogan? Or am I missing the point and you're railing at something else?

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