Rachel’s Organic: great brand, terrible advertising

My heart sank when I saw the new TV advertising for Rachel’s, the organic dairy brand. 

I was an early adopter of organic products, on the basis that reducing the chemicals we spray on our countryside and improving animal welfare can only be a good thing. So I started buying Rachel’s yogurt as soon as it appeared on the supermarket shelves. 

This means that I do feel slightly proprietorial about the brand and this is perhaps why it saddened me to see that the brand’s marketing folk have decided to throw away its heritage and values in pursuit of market share. 

The advertising, in which a woman kicks off her work shoes and slips on a pair of comfy slippers before languorously indulging in a bowl of raspberries and Rachel’s yogurt, looks like the sort of thing Flake or Haagen Das might have produced. Long, lingering camera shots, the orgiastic expression on the woman’s face as she eats the yogurt, and the breathy entreaty to find my “Rachel’s moment” combine to create the sort of advertising cliché that makes me want to burn my bra, preferably in the reception of HMDG, the agency responsible. 

It’s one of those ads where you can see the strings being pulled behind the scenes. Someone has decided that organic is niche and that, in order to reach beyond Guardian readers and Prince Charles, Rachel’s needs to ditch the whole boring organic, green thing and appeal to what really motivates women – self indulgence. 

If this were true it would be incredibly depressing. But, of course, it isn’t. Yes, organic food is more expensive and unfortunately that does put it beyond the reach of some, but I am sure that those women who can afford it (and this ad is aimed squarely at women) are not motivated exclusively by self interest. Most women, like most men, want to leave some wildlife behind for the next generation, care about animal welfare and worry about what their children are eating.

The counter to this is that organic is no longer a unique selling point. That’s true. However, a quick look at the Rachel’s website, which fortunately has yet to be impacted by the new advertising strategy, reveals a rich heritage and strong underlying values. Surely it would have made more sense to use these as the starting point for the new campaign? There’s a lot to be said for authenticity.

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