Ads are cultural intermediaries, which mediate between advertisers and consumers. They are concerned with the “representations of commodities” (Leiss 48). In other words, advertisers explain the meaning of their products through ads. The advertisers of Evian want to represent their water as one that can keep adults young at heart. They accomplish that by associating their ads with baby dances, which can symbolize energy and youthfulness at the same time. By focusing on that message, Evian brings its audience’s attention to a societal norm: everyone wants to become young again as they gradually grow old. In order to communicate the idea, Evian has made a series of advertisements on the theme of “Live Young”. Through the campaign, advertisers hope that their audience can learn the strategy of living young by consuming Evian water.
Throughout the campaign, computer technology played an important role in channeling its message to its audience. The campaign is a good example for illustrating producer-driven forces of advertising. This type of advertising is driven by “changes in the technology of industry” (Schudson 169). Evian’s YouTube Channel is its main channel for its promotion. Advertisers simply upload videos and ads to their channel without paying for it. The YouTube channel serves as the “television channel” for Evian, which can save Evian a great deal of money. What is more, YouTube can be accessible to people all over the world. All it requires is a stable web service.
Baby and Me:
In years 2009 and 2013, Evian produces two viral ads respectively: Roller Babies and Baby and Me, which were published on the YouTube channel of Evian. The Roller Babies ad features babies that are about one year old. They perform break dances throughout the ad to show the effect of Evian on the body. The Baby and Me ad features men and women of various ages and races, who dance in front of a mirror, which can show reflections of them as babies.
To start with, ads can be seen “as discourses that socially and culturally construct a world” (Goldman &Papson 95). In terms of “sociality”, babies and adults in both ads always appear in groups. The babies and the adults either dance together in groups or serve as other “performers’” audiences. Dance becomes a tool for social interaction which links people who do not know each other. As shown by the second ad, dancers are only pedestrians who walked past the mirror that a man is dancing in front of. Dance is a universal communicative tool, which does not require verbal capabilities. Anyone who is willing to move in front of the mirror can become part of the small community that the pedestrians have established. In short, the dance links people of different ages, races and genders to form a community.
In addition, the ads also transmitted some cultural attitudes and beliefs to its audience. Before the release of the Evian campaign, audiences may already have some associations related to babies. They may describe babies with adjectives like cute, young and active. Evian advertisers created a connection between Evian and babies. The “Live Young” slogan was used to direct its audience to read the desired meaning of the babies, which is to be young. This quality of the babies can be transferred to the product through the ad. By joining a brand name product with specific meanings through the Roller Babies ad, a commodity sign can be formed, as shown by the formula “brand name commodity + meaning of image = commodity sign” (Goldman &Papson 81). In this case, Evian water has created a cultural meaning for its brand; the youthfulness of babies becomes a commodity sign for Evian.
Moreover, the advertisers want to convey that living young is not an exclusive right which can only be enjoyed by youths. The baby-reflection of adults in the Baby and Me ad highlighted the idea. Through the mirror, adults can instantly become babies. In other words, youthfulness is something that adults can aim to acquire. From their semi-formal outfits, it can be inferred that the actors that are chosen to feature in the ad are at least in their thirties. For them to dance in the city seems to symbolize that adults can also act according to their instincts when they put down the constraints set by society. In short, this ad wants to introduce a new idea to the present culture that living young is not defined by a person’s physical age, but by a person’s psychological state. Adults can also live young if they believe they can do so.
Secondly, ads can be seen “as discourses that disguise and suppress its inequalities, injustices, irrationalities and contradictions” (Goldman &Papson 95-96). In both ads, babies and adults of different races are included. In particular, whites, African Americans and Latinos can be seen in the ads. In this instance, advertisers did not highlight the particular racial characteristics that distinguish each of them from the others. Rather, the advertisers seem to portray that each race is equally significant. The movements are exhibited at the same time, in front of the same mirror. All of the movements that are exhibited are respected and accepted by others. No one in the ad id judged how well or how bad are the dances performed.
The cohesion of the races in this ad illustrates the concept of consumer societies. This society can be characterized by “popular styles and expenditure patterns among consumers become a principle force for social cohesion” (Leiss 69). The ad shows the effect of Evian by showing people of different races, who can all become young after drinking Evian water, as suggested by the slogan of the brand. Although the adults belong to different racial groups, they can enjoy a commonality of living young, which can be done by buying Evian’s water. By consuming the same product and enjoying the same effect brought by the product, those characters can be considered as a consumer community, one that is formed through consumption. By portraying the harmony among people of different races, the idea of multiculturalism can be exemplified. It is a state when racial and ethnic variation is encouraged. This can be seen through the portrayal of a community among people of different races. The use of multiculturalism can appeal to people of different races. As the advertisers of a Hilfiger ad described, “by respecting one another we can reach all cultures and communities” (Klein 76). When various races are included, the ad can speak to global customers who are represented by the characters present in the ad. The harmonious picture also seems to suppress the unequal treatment towards African Americans in American history because they can dance together with the “whites”. By showing signs of equality among people of various races, Evian may be able to sell its product to a global audience. This is especially important when selling commodities that are applicable to people of all races, genders and ages, since water is a necessity to their survival.
Moreover, these two ads also suppress irrationality by using different advertising techniques. Both ads feature babies who can break dances. Ideally, brilliant babies may know how to walk in the ages of one or two. However, it will definitely be impossible for babies to break dance. The break dance moves can only be made possible by the use of computer software. Also, ordinary mirrors will not be able to reflect an image that differs from the original object. In other words, adults will not be able to see their reflections as babies. Given a number of irrationalities presented in the ads, Evian advertisers made use of two techniques to suppress them. First, the choice of babies works as a gimmick. In other words, since babies are cute and lovable, it is easier for the audiences to be fascinated by their movements. More importantly, advertisers tried to “disrupt and disturb audience expectations…to create bizarre messages” (Leiss 435). In other words, advertisers may purposefully make the ad so irrational and strange to a point that the image may seem humorous. With the combination of gimmicks and bizarreness in the ads, both serve to level out the other. In other words, the cute babies may make it easier for the audience to accept the irrationality in the ads. “Believing that curiosity [generated by bizarreness] stimulates attention, creative gave audiences images to puzzle over” (Leiss 435). By leading its audience to focus on the ad, it is hoped that they may be more likely to receive the branded message of the ad. Moreover, by using these techniques, advertisers can generate buzz by giving their audiences an intent to talk about the ad during conversations. By doing so, the message of the advertisers may be passed on through word of mouth, making the ad viral.
Thirdly, ads can be seen as “discourse that promotes a normative vision of our world and our relationships” (Goldman 96). The two ads promote the vision by reflecting a value of society. It shows the audiences the positive effects of living young. Through watching the ad, the audience may associate youth with many qualities of the youth, as represented by babies. The dances may symbolize that youth is active, flexible and energetic. Youths can also have smooth skin which is related to beauty. All of these positive characteristics point to the idea that youth is an ideal stage in life. On the other hand, aging is frequently associated with negative qualities, like sicknesses and physical deterioration. Given the negative impacts of aging, it is normal that people may want to value youth. The main selling point of the product – to live young – corresponds to the natural desires that adults may have, even though the aging process is inevitable.
Last, but not least, ads can be seen “as discourses that reflect the logic of capital” (Goldman &Papson96). In other words, they are discourses that can foster market transactions on consumer products, so as to sustain capitalism. The Evian ad fits into this ideology by making use of technique that Jackson Lears called therapeutic ethos. He introduced the concept during the transition from industrial to consumer society. In this period, there was a great deal of uncertainties brought by urbanization and the rise of industrial technologies. At that time, products are portrayed as things that can help to ease the uncertainty brought by the environment. Today, people are socialized to believe that aging is a problem due to the negative connotations connected to it. In the campaign, Evian water is presented as a product that can “solve” the problem of aging. The effect of Evian water is exaggerated by letting adults become babies again. It serves to “arouse consumer demand by associating the products with imaginary states of well-being” (Leiss 74). Evian encourages consumption by linking its water with babies, an ideal state of being in which people, especially adults, would want to return to. They suggest to them that by drinking Evian water, they may also be able to become, at least psychologically young again, due to the portrayal of babies in Evian ads.
Besides the two ads that are uploaded to Evian’s YouTube channel, Evian also put a “print ad” in different bus stops in Chicago. It is very innovative for Evian advertisers to incorporate touch-screen technology to replace traditional print ads posted on streets. Evian claims that it is the first brand to do that. Audiences may be curious about this new approach to presenting print ads. By interacting with the screen, they may be one of those who witnessed the technological development of the advertising industry. What is more, the technological innovation can make audience’s brand experience with Evian more memorable, because they have never interact with an ad like this.
By formatting the ad that way, the advertisers have made use of pull marketing. This is a technique in which audiences can “choose to click on the icon, whereupon a targeted message for a product is delivered” (Leiss 345). In this case, bus-waiters can decide whether they want to receive the advertising message or not. By allowing audiences to opt-in to the ad, advertisers can reduce audience’s resistance to the advertising message, possibly making the ad more effective. When audiences interact with the ad, they may not realize that Evian advertisers can use this new technology to test audience reception of the ad. By building an interactive device in the ad, Evian is able to come up with accurate statistical information on the amount of activations throughout the length of the four-week campaign.
Evian advertisers are very clever to put the ad inside different bus stops. People may easily get bored as they wait for their buses to come. The boredom may increase the possibility for them to be curious in the ad, increasing the chance for the ad to be tapped. When people actually tapped on the screen, a baby body dances according to the rhythm of a song, Wordy Rappinghood. When advertisers place the ad inside different bus stops, the space inside it can allow its audience to dance with the babies, increasing the level of interactivity with the ad. By including sound effects to the movements, not only could the opt-in audiences watch and interact with the ad, but those who are walking past the bus stops when the ad is airing may also be attracted to it. It is a human instinct to stop and find out what has happened when they suddenly hear a sound. As more and more people stopped and watched the ad, the crowd can generate even more audiences. As people see the crowd from faraway, they may want to join the crowd themselves in order to find out “what is happening over there”, to fulfill their sense of curiosity.
Due to the creation of commodity signs through the Roller Babies ad, advertisers can create accelerated meanings of the babies in other Evian ads that followed. When the online ad audience see Evian babies again in different bus stops, they will automatically be able to sense the meaning brought by the babies. This prevents the advertisers from repeatedly explaining the association between Evian water and the babies seen in the ads. The accelerated meaning of the babies is important to make intertextuality possible in the bus stop ads. It is a technique in which “ads refer to other ads” (Goldman &Papson 94). By referring their bus stop ads to their Roller Babies ad, advertisers can continue the spiral effect that was brought by the Roller Babies ad. Not only could advertisers remind the audiences of the baby moves presented in the previous Roller Babies ad, but the audience’s affection towards the babies can be reinforced and transferred to the bus stop ads.
Evian Baby Dance: Baby Dance
In addition to the bus stop ad, Evian also introduced a promotional event online: the Evian Baby Dance. This event plays into pull marketing because it requires the voluntary participation from its audience. Evian is basically asking its audience to create an Evian ad together. In order to participate, they need to choose a T-shirt among three, which are printed with African American, white, and Latino baby bodies. Afterwards, they have to turn on their webcams and take photos with the virtual shirt on. Evian would record those pictures and combine them to form a long Evian music video. Evian also required participants to enter their names and current locations along with their submissions. Although the event can encourage audience engagement with the brand, the interactive component of it can serve as a surveillance tool for the advertisers. As suggested by Andrejevic, viewer engagement is a way of “gathering detailed information about a desirable demographic” (Andrejevic 67). In this case, by participating in the baby dance, participant’s name, location, race, gender, age range will be revealed to the advertisers. In other words, this may become a resource for advertisers to learn about who exactly are the customers of Evian and who are interested in the “Live Young” ads. This information can be used as an audience reference when Evian plans for their next campaign. Advertisers may be able to tailor-make ads that may fit the interests of identified audience groups. To sum up, there is a “double role played by interactivity: as facilitator or both participation and surveillance” (Andrejevic 67).
Aside from introducing online promotions, Evian has also made use of unconventional marketing techniques to promote its water. Evian advertisers built an adult playground near London’s Canary Wharf Subway Station. When adults played with the Evian swings and seesaws, snow could be generated. In “Alt Everything”, Klein describes a set of techniques that are used by BMG, a music label, which “hires street crews” of urban black youth to talk-up hip albums in their communities and go out on guerilla style postering and stickering missions” (Klein 75).Both Evian and BMG are using guerilla marketing as their promotional method. Instead of using mass media as their means of promotion, guerilla marketing is a technique that involves unexpected promotional events that aim to attract localized target demographic audiences at a specific geographic location. Not only could these events increase consumer involvement with the brand, consumers can also gain a memorable brand experience. Through the experience in the Evian playground, the participants may be able to feel the central idea of Evian – the importance of being young at heart. Due to its unexpectedness, participants or bystanders are likely to share the branded experience with their significant others, further spreading the brand message. In other words, Evian uses guerilla marketing to generate word (s) of mouth, in order to spread Evian’s brand message at a low cost.
Besides attracting the attention of participants, the event can also attract media attention. Playgrounds are traditionally recreational venues for children. By building an adult playground, Evian breaks a norm. However, by being special, Evian may be able to generate interest in local reporters in covering the story. This can serve as a free advertisement for Evian water, further saving their advertising cost. In short, this event helped Evian to reach a great deal of target audience at a low cost. If the participants react to the brand experience by actually consuming Evian water, Evian may be able make huge profits.
Evian Protection Water Institute: Evian Water Protection Institute
Aside from using guerilla marketing, Evian also practiced cause-related marketing. Cause-related marketing is a “strategy in which corporate brand identities and products are connected to charity or non-profit organizations, primarily through the sale of commercial products with a percentage of the profits being channeled to the good cause in question” (Littler 29). In the case of Evian, Evian established the Evian Protection Water Institute in 2007. The institute aims at protecting wetlands and promoting effective water management in third world countries. By being capable of teaching water management techniques to the people in third world countries, Evian presents itself as an expert in the field. The expertise can be transferred to Evian water, giving its customers an impression that Evian water is of high quality. This can be helpful for establishing a trust between the brand and its customers, which is essential for cultivating brand loyalty.
Evian’s association with the Institute can also let it be seen as a company which is willing to take its part in enacting social responsibility. By being involved in maintaining water quality in third world countries, “the West and the rest are presented as embracing on equal terms” (Littler 28). The west is often associated with wealth and sufficiency. On the other hand, the rest can include developing countries, which can be characterized as having insufficient capital and resources to develop. The imbalanced distribution of resources sustains a gap between the developed and the developing countries. This act of Evian can possibly reduce the gap and improve the quality of life for partnering third world countries. By doing so, Evian can be portrayed as the savior of selected third world countries. When customers know that part of Evian’s revenue will be allocated to help others, they may be less reluctant to purchase Evian water, even though Evian water is three times more expensive than other brands. In other words, by associating their brand with charity, Evian can give customers an alternative reason to buy their products, other than that of fulfilling a want or need. By working towards a cause, Evian can establish a brand image, one that does not only focus on generating revenue, but one that has contributed to solve social problems.
In conclusion, throughout the campaign, Evian has tried to establish a community among its audience, who can hopefully become customers. The Evian Roller Babies and the Baby and Me ads portray a global dancing community formed by people of different races, genders and ages. The Chicago bus stop ad and the Evian playground both build a community by letting them share the same brand experience by interacting with the Evian ads and events. The Baby Dance links global consumers by connecting their images to form a long Evian video. In both programs, Evian tried to maintain their current customers. Meanwhile, Evian is trying to recruit new ones, to inform them of the brand if they have not come across it before. The global community is reinforced by the operation of the Evian Protection Water Institute, making it possible for the west to help the rest, giving people a feeling of global togetherness.
After building a community through various components of the campaign, Evian wants to spread their message to the community. Evian wants to remind its audience, especially adults, to live young. The nature of its message is one that can possibly show Evian as a consumer-caring company. By using dancing babies in their ads, adults can be reminded of being active and energetic when they were young. The Evian playground arouses their memories of themselves playing in playgrounds when they were young. In short, Evian ads and events can initiate audience’s nostalgia towards their youth. This can create an emotional tie between the customers and the brand. The audiences of this campaign may appreciate Evian for giving them back their youth memories through watching or interacting with their branded message. The emotional ties between them may eventually become the reason for consumers to consume the product, given that Evian is more expensive than other water brands.
Works Cited Page
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