Italian Marketing Quirks

10 Jul

As you may know, I graduated with a degree in Advertising (minor in Marketing), so no matter where I find myself, I’m always fascinated by what’s going on in the ad world around me. I think advertising reflects the current state of the consumer culture in an accurate, and sometimes slightly creepy, way.

For example, while flipping through an Oprah magazine that one of my guests recently left behind, I ran across an ad for this concoction. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Whatever happened to a good, old fashioned balanced diet?

Well, Italy has its own marketing and advertising quirks as well…by quirks I mean products or campaigns that have struck me as interesting or uniquely Italian in some way.

Take, for example, this ad I saw in Italian Vanity Fair the other day:


It reads:

MOOOOMMMMM!! Where’d you put the suntan oil?

Honey, it’s on the (dinner) table. Hurry, before it’s all gone.

Ah, the Italian tanning culture. Here’s a Beta Carotene-packed salad from the “Shake and Enjoy” line that includes everything from carrots to bell peppers to dried apricots, as well as my own personal favorite: “extra-virgin olive oil dressing enriched with carrot concentrate.” Carrot concentrate? The ad goes on to say “it’s ready in just four easy steps, so you can enjoy it without missing even a minute of sun.” Well, thank goodness for that!

[I also noticed a curious warning on the front of the package… a red danger triangle with an exclamation point and a message that reads: “Remove the plastic wrapper ONLY AFTER dressing the salad (see instructions on side panel).” I guess the sun might be frying some people’s brains as well… can you just see them shaking it without the plastic on? All the beach-goers within a 6 foot range picking salad off their bikinis, puzzled. Or maybe happy, because then they too could get a touch of that carrot-concentrate-filled olive oil.]

On another uniquely Italian note, did you know that Whirlpool is coming out with a new side-by-side fridge/freezer model in December 2007? It’s called the Side-by-Side Espresso. So now, instead of getting ice and water side-by-side, you get ice and …

Side by Side Espresso

This was taken from a short interview with designer Antonio Berardi in the same issue of Vanity Fair (July 12). Berardi works for Whirlpool and was commissioned to design an espresso cup to go with their new model. Actually, the article says he was asked to design an “oggetto-accessorio,” an “object-accessory” to go with the fridge. It has two handles. Molto trendy. Of course, I have yet to see an Italian household with a full-size Whirlpool side-by-side fridge/freezer (in fact the only link I found was on the Whirlpool UK website), and personally I’d be curious as to how many Italians would actually trust their espresso machine (those who actually use machines at home and not the humble moka) to be installed in the door of a freezer. Boh!

And while we’re on the topic of advertising in Italy, why not head over to Jessica in Rome’s post here, and cast your vote on whether her Italian TV commercial find would fly with the US public.

Now, forget about all that SPF nonsense and go get yourself some beta carotene salads already!


11 Responses to “Italian Marketing Quirks”

  1. jessica in rome July 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm #

    HAHA! I can’t believe that fridge. Would it even fit into someones kitchen here? It’s funny you mention the moka because we upgraded a few months ago to the Lavazza Blue. I love it because I can also make cappuccinos!!!

  2. Cherrye July 10, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    What a great post. lol. The tanning salad is just TOO much. I didn’t really know if that was everywhere in Italy or just in HOT HOT HOT Calabria. If I had a few centesimi for everytime someone has told me I need a tan…

    Plus, I agree…the fridge won’t fit and I bet the coffee isn’t “Italian quality” (as I am reminded of soooo often!)

  3. Giulia July 10, 2007 at 5:32 pm #

    A fridge like that would never be allowed in an old school Italian’s home, as whatever food they eat is purchased, most of the time, on a daily basis. This type of model is catching on with the younger generation though. But, to tell the truth, I have only seen 1 large (double side by side doors) fridge in a family member’s home since I’ve been here. Everyone seems to have the standard tiny fridge that comes with the kitchen furniture. As for the espresso maker in the door? I dunno about that one. If it ever fails, do you have to lug the whole fridge to the repair shop? I hope not! That would be a pain in the ass.

  4. Michelle July 10, 2007 at 6:50 pm #

    What’s up with the tanning thing. A while back, I actually got stopped in the pharmacy by a woman in a white lab coat asking if I wanted a “free skin screening.” I thought it was “National Skin Day” or something and that she was a trained professional. I let her point a laser-type thing at my face and she proceeded to tell me I have “very sensitive skin” (yes, I already knew that). According to the print-out she gave me, I would need to take special vitamins before tanning this summer. When I explained that I usually wear total block or sit under an umbrella, she still pushed the vitamins. Anyway, turns out she was a representative of the vitamin company (duh! I think it’s Ineov or something like that) but I think it’s really shady the pharmacy didn’t identify her as such. How many Italians got roped into buying the vitamins out of fear of not getting that perfect summer tan? Vitamins almost make sense but salad? C’mon!

  5. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 11, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    Jessica: Wow! You guys are FANCY. For a while we had an espresso machine at home…it wasn’t anything fancy but it did the trick… but the problem is that if you don’t use it really frequently, the coffee isn’t that great. We went back to the moka, since I’m more of a tea person and Ale only has one or two espressos a day (below the Rome average of six!)

    Cherrye: What? You mean you don’t have one of these espresso fridges for your B&B? LOL.

    Giulia: The idea of hauling the entire fridge to the repair shop is hilarious. Maybe it has a “pop out” mechanism. BOH!

    Michelle: OOOOH, don’t even get me started on tanning! I too have very sensitive and pale-freckled skin, so I am not about to go sunbaking, I just can’t physically tolerate it even if I wanted to. But the way they just literally ROAST here, it’s so crazy! How many of those leathery, wrinkly women have you seen at age 60 and up, still dark brown every summer? And as for the vitamins… total sham to do that to unsuspecting customers, and in an Italian pharmacy no less, which is usually trusted to be a place of sound medical advice and less commercial than the avg. US drug store. I had a friend who took the tanning vitamins. What a joke. Plus vitamins are SOOOO expensive here! It’s outrageous!

  6. kataroma July 11, 2007 at 10:01 am #

    Yes, the tanning thing is insane. I’m extremely pale and do my best to stay that way. I’ve already had enough moles dug out of my back, thank you very much! But the scary thing is sometimes I catch sight of myself in the mirror and I think “gosh, I’m pale!” I scare even myself!

    The tanning salad is hilarious though. It’s kind of like the US in the 70s. Maybe 30 years from now Italians will also wearing SPF 45 and hats. 🙂

  7. Kelli July 11, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    NO WAY! A fridge that makes coffee? I don’t know whether to be appalled or go stand in line to get my name on the order list.

  8. Jessica August 7, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    The advertising thing I find fascinating is which form of “you” is being used – and what I think the advertiser is trying to achieve by using each. Your post inspired me to write about that, actually:

  9. Kathleen Duncan June 25, 2008 at 4:09 am #

    How much do they cost?

  10. maria November 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    i am looking to purchase a bimby where cn i buy one in london

  11. Manuela Albuquerque November 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    i am looking to purchase a bimby. where can i buy one in south africa?

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