Whatever happened to those DINKY (double income, no kids) couples
in the Haagen-Dazs ads? Limbs entwined and indulging in their second
favourite pastime of spooning ice-cream down each other's throats before
- it seems safe to assume - moving effortlessly on to their most
They got children, mortgages and pension plans, that's what. Which is
presumably why there's a fresh dollop of TV advertising to seduce a new
generation of twentysomething hedonists.
Ten years on, that Bartle Bogle Hegarty work lingers in the mind not
just for the way it so effectively translated the brief but because it
rewrote the script for an entire sector. It's easy to forget how the
ice-cream market was in those innocent days. A tub of Gino Ginnelli was
about as sophisticated as it got.
Haagen-Dazs transformed a stagnant and declining market dominated by
established brands with little or no interest in innovation by extending
the appeal of a product that was once just a children's treat to become
an adult indulgence. So simple you wonder why nobody thought of it
Of course, Haagen-Dazs was no ordinary ice-cream - it was high quality,
premium-priced and instantly addictive - but the advertising delivered
the simple truth: this was a product synonymous with intimacy and
sensuality, the ultimate aid to "chilling out".
A lot has happened to the brand and its advertising since then.
Haagen-Dazs is now an outpost of the food conglomerate Pillsbury and
it's up to Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper to sustain the advertising legacy that
Welcome then to the Institute of Sensual Eating, a spoof New Age retreat
where the joy of eating Haagen-Dazs is linked to spiritual enlightenment
rather than the joy of ... well, you know what. Needs must, I suppose.
Brand campaigns must evolve or die and this one is as good an example as
any of ads that tap into the current desire for instant gratification
while simultaneously sending it up.
Hang on, though. Is this the spoof it pretends to be? On the face of it,
Haagen-Dazs is the latest in a series of advertisers - Goldfish, Fosters
and Renault among them - who have had a tilt at New Age fads. Next to
Jeffrey Archer, no target comes any softer. It enables "us" advertisers
to laugh with "you" consumers at something everybody outside the
chattering classes knows is bollocks and helps extend a brand's appeal
beyond Islington's confines and The Guardian's readership.
All well and good as long as it doesn't backfire. Research into the
Billy Connolly Goldfish campaign revealed a significant number of people
with irony bypasses who took the pseudo-intellectual tosh seriously. But
just as anybody who doesn't get a Goldfish ad shouldn't be let loose
with one of its cards, so it's unlikely that viewers taking the
Haagen-Dazs ad at face value will be popping round to the deli for a tub
of the stuff.
Yet I still wonder whether Haagen-Dazs, well established as an urban
brand with attitude, is being mealy mouthed by dressing up what it
really wants to say. This, after all, is the age of the Ibiza
generation. Thatcher's children have money in their pockets, time to
spend it and perpetual pleasure as their aim.
Not that hedonism is anything new, just more overt. It would be sad if
Haagen-Dazs, whose advertising has always been so self-assured, forgot
its heritage. I've just seen a frolicking Haagen-Dazs couple in a new ad
for DFS sofas. Enough said.