Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lost in Translation: French T.V. Commercials

Sometimes, being an anglophone in France has its disadvantages. I have so spoken about my trials and tribulations about having my native tongue be butchered and badly used with the excessive possessive Apostrophe S and changing English movie titles from their original titles to another English title for French audiences.

In my case, my trained American ears cannot help but capture the often-in-English background music that is incorrectly used in French T.V. commercials.

What I mean by "incorrectly used" is that while said music would have its merits if presented in a neutral situation, such as listening to its catchy beats on the radio, when it is used for purpose of selling merchandise, the message depicted in the lyrics simply doesn't correlate with the product being pitched to audiences.

I'll present three examples of what I'm talkin' about.

Now, who doesn't love chocolate, I ask. With the exception of my mother, almost everybody does. (Seriously, her idea of "chocolate" is a Snickers bar, which is roughly 0.0000001% chocolate. It's insane.)

Still, despite a profound human love for the sultry, divine chunks derived from cocoa beans and its butter, the products still need to be marketed to people by the manufacturers and corporations. One vivid example is the Kinder Bueno hazelnut chocolate ad.

Any French person who sees this ad will chuckle at the situation of sharing the last Kinder Bueno bar with tennis star Jo Wilfried Tsonga and think nothing of the background song that is used in the end.

However, I, as an English speaker, know for a fact that the song used is Lily Allen's 22, which is about a grasshopper-who-sang-all-summer woman in her 30s whose life is depressingly "already over."

Thus, due to the fact that I understand the song's lyrics, the commercial's fairly innocuous message for consumption takes an inadvertent negative turn: Your life's over, bitch. Eat chocolate!

Either way, I can't eat Kinder Bueno hazelnut chocolates because I have a nut allergy. Welp.

Then there is the Elle & Vire crème fraîche commercial about how the rainy weather in Normandie is ideal for producing the best dairy products.

What the hell does it have to do with love fools? If anything, I may be facing a problem with all of that constant rain pouring from the sky, and that the weather itself is beseeching me to love it, love it, say that I love it and need it. Rain, rain, go away...

Also: this particular ad claims that it is not raining in the area between the Elle and Vire rivers in Normandie while demonstrating that it is CLEARLY FUCKING RAINING. WTF, France?

As a final example, I present this ad for a perfume called "La Petite Robe Noire" (The Little Black Dress).

The background song is about boots. BOOTS. The song is about BOOTS, people! GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

*insert a flurry of facepalms, headdesks and cartoon lip blubbering*

In short, as long as French ads improperly use songs in English, I will continue to yank the hair off my scalp.

Barb the French Bean


  1. The third add the song does kind of fit... the "petite robe noir" is a) wearing boots (most of the time) and b) dancing/walking along to the fabulous rythm of the song!

    But yeah, in general in France (and Spain) people don't pay attention to the lyrics of songs in ads because they don't understand them! :p

  2. Mademoiselle Binz!
    We arrrrrr still vaiting to zee a photo ov yorrr Doctorrr-Belle costuum! :p

    1. I have put it up! I updated the Halloween costume post with a few pictures! :D

      Belle Doctor Who Costume

  3. Well to be fair one of the main messages of chocolate is that lonely women in their 30's eat it to bear the crushing loneliness that is their existence.

    1. Geez, I never fully let the weight of that marketing campaign set in. I won't ever look at my mini-Dove bars the same...


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