Alpine Milk

Not long ago I visited an exhibition of Picasso and then I headed to another exhibition of two creative comrades. I was still trying to absorb the white and black impressions of the Picasso brand, when an elderly woman with slightly bored expression on her face popped up in front of me. She started with: “Hello, I am from the X sociological agency, we’re making a survey about TV commercials…”. Professionally deformed that I am, I responded quickly “No, thank you”, but the lady went on almost as fast as I did “…if you spare about two hours of your time for group discussions, you will get a Milka chocolate as a reward”.

I have conducted surveys on TV scenarios many times, and I have also worked for the Milka brand. I have experience with not well finished storyboards and beheading of good ideas, produced by good professionals, exactly at group discussions. Pretty often people who are in the marketing business depend on giant Excel tables or steady emotional platforms, which is a decent precondition for the death of piles of pure creativity, so far as this can exist for commercial purpose.  You want to sell more, you catch monkeys on the street with Alpine legends and expect to receive a golden lion in Cannes for creativity? Piles of bullshit! The Milka brand brought back to me impressions ranging from the “Alpine milk”, through the plastic chocolate Kinder eggs and stories about the “Whipped cream”. I believe that after a certain age one would appreciate stories about milk on the covers of some educational magazines more than being brainwashed by straight-line plots about natural foods. I do respect brands like Milka and Kinder, yet sometimes cuisine does not come down to bigger market share, image gradation, distribution expansion, communicating new packaging designs etc., but to the establishment of mutual trust between manufacturer and consumer. It is in the trust plane where many brands settle, and after decades of treading on the same emotional prism they forget that generations and values develop. How do you step on a  product benefit relying on Most tender chocolate pleasure and on product attributes like Alpine milk and mythical Alpine world, and then on the back of the packing there are addresses of factories located thousands of kilometers away from the Alps … lilac planes drone non-stop back and forth with freshly obtained milk?! At first sight, positioning works in the mind of manufacturers and promoters of a certain brand. At second, any average professional from the branch will easily guess whether a cross promotion with Burton snowboards or a Tim Burton movie can move a brand like Milka to a new emotional epoch, and as for third sight, I believe that one doesn’t need a spaceship construction diploma in order to discover the values in a chocolate movie or to appreciate the potential of World of Warcraft characters in the Kinder eggs.

Striving to sell to a wider audience, many manufacturers fall in vacuum states, which seriously impedes the achievement of emotional depth and trust in the different target groups, ethnical groups and cultures. Few brands succeed in being equally stable on several markets and tens of communication levels. The PR, below the line and above the line activities, sponsorships, development of new tastes, product and emotional advantages, etc. are a small piece of the devices used by marketing to get deep under the skin of our consumer society. Children are the top target group for many brands being more “thin-skinned”, and Milka has been delicately playing with the child-parent emotions, as well as with the cleanness of the Alpine nature. When a concrete promotion is targeted at a 25-30 year old professional, who has the self confidence of an independent person, he/she has either achieved or is after the dream of his/her life and tends to buy brands, widely known as premium, the brands with a long history, the brands perceived as a synonym for a high quality, it is pretty naive to believe that people of this age group have been growing in lilac flower pots for the last 30 years. To me this brand is on the verge of emotional crisis because it does not realize that there is the far more varied palette of “Alpine emotions”, which recently split the snowboard in two leading to the appearance of a totally new style and epoch in the ski, and it also turned the X-related sports into a giant industry.

Later on the same day, on my way back from the second exhibition I heard a familiar voice:

” Hello, I am from the X sociological agency, we’re making a survey about TV commercials…”

  • Project credits
  • Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
  • Creative Direction: Antonia Evrova
  • Art Direction: Ivailo Zlatkov
  • Logistics: Silvia Todorova
  • Account Management: Radoslav Minchev
  • Media Planning: Kossara Chigireva
  • Brand Management: Boriana Stankova
  • Client: Kraft Foods Bulgaria