Sunday, April 7, 2013

The other French bubbly drink...




The rain has returned to the Pacific Northwest after a few idyllic spring days. Moss is threatening to take over; sprawling in garden beds; spreading to decks and fences; creeping on the brave souls who made the mistake of removing the ubiquitous fleece jackets too soon...

It is time for a cheerful, uplifting story. Some sun. Bright colors. It is time to return to the glorious Mediterranean summers of my youth. It is time for a glass of Orangina.

In the land of Coca Cola and Sprite, many may not realize how special the cute pear-shaped bottle really is, with its pebbly texture (meant to recall the peel of an orange) and its colorful metal cap.

Like my father and his ancestors, Orangina was born more than 70 years ago in Algeria, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Even though the sparkling orange-flavored beverage was originally invented by a Spaniard and introduced at a trade show in Marseilles, France, in the 1930s, a French Algerian, Léon Béton, is widely credited as his creator. 

From the start, Béton understood the importance of savvy marketing, entrusting Orangina's marketing campaigns to French graphic artist Bernard Villemot as early as 1953. Villemot gave the brand its identity and a logo that would become instantly recognizable. Their collaboration would prove a successful and legendary one.






But life (and politics) got in the way. In 1962, after years of turmoil and violence, Algeria became independent. Hundreds of thousands of Algerian-born French people, nicknamed "Les Pieds-Noirs," (the Black Feet,) left the only country they had ever known; their homes, farms, and businesses and landed in the cities of Southern France, where, many found out, they were not always welcome. 

Léon Béton and his little round bottle were no exception, but he adapted quickly. The first production line opened in France after 1962. By the 1980s, the brand had joined the Pernod Ricard group. From France, it took over Europe and the world. Today, Orangina is represented in 60 countries and on 5 continents.

Why?

It all started with the brand's unique formula. Orangina is a blend of citrus flavors; a sparkling drink, with no food coloring, and a lot of orange pulp. It was soon discovered the orange pulp had a tendency to drop to the bottom of the bottle, making it necessary to shake the bottle vigorously before drinking. Not to worry. This would become the concept behind all of Orangina's creative marketing campaigns.

So many years later, I can still sing the funny little song in the brand's hugely popular TV commercials: "Secouez-moi, Secouez-moi, pour bien mélanger la pulpe d'orange!" ("Shake me, shake me, to stir the pulp!") 



From the start, Orangina had a seductive personality: A fun, refreshing drink; a Mediterranean drink; that did not take itself seriously...  For that reason, the brand's target was always the 18-35 crowd. 

There were ups and downs, and Orangina lost some market share in the late 1990s.

But it came back, and the commercials got better, and better. And people talked about them. 

There was the hilarious series directed by French actor Alain ChabatGot to shake that bottle to stir the pulp!

In the roller coaster ad, Orangina bottle #1 is worried. Orangina bottle #2 tells him to relax and be optimistic... Then all hell breaks loose... At the end of the ride, the director's voice can be heard saying: "Bon, c'est bien les enfants, mais on la refait. Moins crispés!" (Good one, guys, but we need another take. Don't look so tense...")






In the pinball machine ad, the actor impersonating the Orangina bottle asks: "C'est quoi, le texte?" (What's the script?) The director replies: "Ahhhhhh..." --- Watch what happens next... At the end, a woman's voice can be heard saying: "The same player gets another round..."







In 2010, Orangina introduced its first gay commercial... It became an instant hit in France. McDonald's France (aka "McDo") did the same thing that year. I featured their gay commercial in another story a few weeks ago.







In recent years, the brand's "animal" campaign, heavy on sexually suggestive content , shocked the British public...





Today, Orangina is owned by Japanese consortium Suntory Holding Ltd, and it will be interesting to see where they take the fun little orange drink.


I am betting France will always have a soft spot for Orangina, as I do. To celebrate their 75th anniversary, the company revived and sponsored the famous "Course des Garçons de Café," (the waiters' race,) in Paris and in Marseilles recently. The message could not be more clear: Orangina is part of French culture, and love it or hate it, it is here to stay! 

To me, nothing says: "Eté" (summer) like a fun bottle of Orangina on a café table...








theillusionists.org

A bientôt.


Additional material:

If you speak French, this is an excellent issue of French TV show "Culture Pub," dedicated to Orangina's best TV commercials. It features the old black and white commercials from the 1970s (the crazy waiter series.) 








46 comments:

  1. Hello Veronique

    I found this post fascinating. I enjoy Orangina and loved learning about the marketing behind the product. Hope the sun shines this week in Seattle.
    Helen xx

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    1. The sun is not shining as of now, Helen, but we keep hoping... Why can't the sky look as bright and cheerful as the Orangina bottle is what I want to know?! :-)

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  2. Orangina used to be quite readily available here in Northern California but to my great dismay it is disappearing from shelves and being replaced by San Pelligrino orange and lemon drinks. We used to have it for our Bistro but can't get it anymore. Have a great week.

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    1. You're right Michel. Orangina is not easy to find in the US. I remember seeing large size bottles at the local Trader Joes. I will look for it again when I go this week...

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  3. Je n'aime pas la boisson elle même mais j'ai toujours aimé les pubs, celles en affiches des années 50/60 puis la saga de Chabat , absolument geniale.Les dernieres , avec les animaux, me semblent avoir perdu de vue l'esprit du produit. Mais vu que ça a été racheté par des Japonais , ce n'est peut-être pas étonnant, il faudrait leur rappeler d'où vient le produit, son code couleur, ce qu'il symbolise.. Ce que fait très bien ton post!
    "Secouez-moi, secouez-moi" est un slogan mythique, dès qu'on l'entend on sait de quoi il s'agit!
    J'aimais bien "Culture Pub", une excellente émission comme on n'en fait plus .
    Merci pour les petits spots , ça met de bonne humeur de les revoir!
    Bonne semaine!bises!

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    1. Il y a tant t'Histoire et d'histoires derrière la petite bouteille ronde! Une sacrée invention. Un de ces jours, je m'offrirais bien une reproduction d'affiche de Villemot. Ce serait un coup de chaleur garanti dans nos climats nordiques! Chabat est génial. On n'en attendait pas moins de lui, et moi aussi, j'aimais bien Culture Pub. Bisous

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  4. I have not had any in 40 yrs I am sure..Love the terrasse with it all out:)

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    1. Well, you know what you need to start shopping for online then... That is why they invented the Internet... What do you mean, "It wasn't just for that?!" :-)

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  5. We could find it at Trader Joe's recently. I love Orangina as well as my son. Lovely post!

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  6. A wonderful post. And we do need a day brightener, don't we?! Perhaps when spring really arrives it should be celebrated with all kinds of bubbly. . .

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    1. I promise to celebrate the return of the prodigal sun in the Pacific Northwest with a six-pack of Orangina... Now where to find it?!

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  7. Now I really want some! I also love "Orangina rouge" (red Orangina) with blood oranges. And the ads were hilarious: "Mais pourquoi est-il aussi méchant? -- Parce queeeeeeeeeee" (Why is he so mean? -- Becauuuuuuuuuuuuuuse!)

    Bee

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    1. Bonjour Bee. Merci de ta visite. I forgot to mention Orangina Rouge, didn't I? Those commercials are pretty darn good too!

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  8. This post brought back a lot of memories for me (well, from like eight years ago lol). When I was in college, there was a fabulous little French bakery/cafe built inside of an old silent film theater near my university. It was such an adorable, charming cafe, with all the old decor still in place from the 1920s. Jonny and I would go there for lunch almost every day and we always got Orangina. I collected the bottles and would use them as piggy banks or vases for small flowers.

    Well, a couple years after we graduated, I read in the news that the place burned down. The entire building was gone. And instead of rebuilding the cafe, the owners simply sold the land and now it's a row of high-class bars. :(

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    1. Bonjour Jenny. Thank you for stopping by.

      Something tells me I would have probably seen you at that little café inside the old silent film theater. You can bet the new high-class bars only sell [bad] Champagne these days... Pffff... As the French say: "Ils ne savent pas ce qui est bon..." (they don't know what's good...)

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  9. Hi Veronique - I loved the links to the advertisements for Orangina, and I loved the shot of the giant Orangina bottles in the square. But most of all I love Orangina - I grew quite fond of it while in France. Not as fond as I am of Cotes du Rhone you understand, but close!

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    1. Well, Craig... To each his own. There is a time for Orangina (a hot summer afternoon,) and a time for Côtes du Rhône (a delicious meal with family and friends...) There is no law saying you can't enjoy both... in moderation, bien sûr!

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  10. Dearest Véronique,
    That is really fun, the humor of the old advertisement, especially that 'garçon' with his tray of bottles. LOVE the shape of the Orangina bottle by the way.
    Lovely writing, as usual.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Bonjour Mariette. Thank you for your kind comment. I did enjoy the "waiter's" commercial series (the black and white ones.) They were hilarious, and never failed to make an impression. Everyone still remembers them, 40 years later! Pretty amazing marketing if you ask me...

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  11. I love Orangina, but I didn't know the history about it. Thank you for your research (and I am sure I will be thinking of you when ordering an Orangina in a provencal restaurant next time ;)
    Bisous, Monika

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    1. Merci Monika. The first drink I order at a café terrace in France this summer will HAVE to be Orangina. I bet I will savor it even more than usual. Thank you for stopping by!

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  12. You really made me wish one, ... and fortunately my fridge had a few! :-)

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    1. What a clever, clever man you are, Peter! :-)

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  13. Summers in La Rochelle with my tante Hélène, tante Colette and les cousins. Ahhh, Orangina...brings back memories. Thank you for the stroll down memory lane. I still love it.

    Big bisous, M-T

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    1. Ah, les souvenirs d'enfance... Ne me remercie pas. J'ai profité de cette petite histoire moi aussi. Bisous à Dan.

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  14. Replies
    1. The bottle? The drink? The latest advertising campaign? All of the above? :-)

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  15. I always think Orangina is so European even though you can find it in our grocery stores. It was fun to learn more about it! I"m going to forward that tv show to my daughter who is boning up on her French at college in Francais Deux(is that right?). Hope you are well Veronique!!! Happy Spring!

    xo,

    -h

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    1. Bonjour Heather. Oui, Français deux is right! :-) Bravo!

      That would be a good video clip to practice with. Very conversational. Let me know if she liked it!

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  16. Oh I just LOVE Orangina. Had my first taste 20 years ago on the beaches of Brittany and I was hooked. :-)

    The old ads are great. The recent ones aren't bad either.

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    1. Ah, a connaisseur! (connaisseuse, I guess?!) I can't wait to have Orangina again this summer... Take care, Victoria. I hope you are well and getting ready for warmer weather.

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  17. Love Orangina and actually have an empty bottle that I put a few flowers in from time to time. A perfect little vase!
    V

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    1. These bottles are certainly pretty! Thank you for stopping by, V.

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  18. What a funny post Veronique! Villmot was one of the most talented mid century graphic artists, laconic, sense of humor and color, kind of Matisse in posters genre. I have one of his posters at home http://www.allposters.ca/-sp/Bally-posters_i1250400_.htm
    http://jewelyettofind.blogspot.ca

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    1. Lovely Natalie. I am glad you know more than I do about Monsieur Villemot. I will look him up. I have always enjoyed his posters, including the Perrier ones. Hope all is well in Toronto.

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  19. The nuns packed Orangina in a lunch for me when I was on a travel study tour of Europe in 1969. It was love at first sip! I have some fun mid-century memorabilia that I collected along the way. My most revered piece is a menu from the Eiffel tower. I'm a Seattle girl that moved to Tacoma 33 years ago.
    ~Lynne
    withLove.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Lynne. Love that you collect souvenirs from your trips abroad. I do the same. I'd love to see your vintage menu from the Eiffel Tower!

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  20. What a wonderful post! Just seeing the cute Orangina bottle immediately transported me back to France and more happy memories. I can remember the first time I tasted it and thought it was so delicious and different with the bits of orange pulp. It was many years before it finally arrived in England. I don't think I have seen these wonderful adverts before and I loved the giant bottles too. Of course I'm a huge fan of the other famous French bubbly drink too! A very entertaining post, Véronique. Merci beaucoup!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. You're welcome, miss b. You are correct: Orangina is a different kind of drink, and stands apart from the rest of the soda family. The cute little bottle makes it stands out too... Have a great week in England... or in Dubai, once again? :-)

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  21. LOVE!! The first time I had an Orangina was in Paris. We'd been walking EVERYWHERE and needed to use the bathroom. Went into a tiny place and they said buy something first. So that's what I bought (not a soda drinker, ever, and that seemed the healthiest choice). Then confronted with a Turkish toilet in tight jeans. So not going to do that. The Orangina was good, but created a serious emergency ;)

    Fun post. You're such a great writer, Veronique!

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    1. Thank you Suzanne. I loved your story. :-) Ah, the Turkish toilets. I *almost* miss them :-) They were always sure to provoke fits of laughter among my foreign guests when I showed them around Paris and France... The good old days!

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  22. I have not had Orangina for a long time, reading this post made me pause to add it to my grocery list! Fortunately a few stores around here carry it. Thank you for such an interesting history of Orangina!

    ~Melanie

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    1. My pleasure, Melanie. I am glad you can find Orangina fairly easily in your neck of the woods... Come back soon!

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  23. I LOVE Orangina and have been drinking it for Years!
    And I always assumed it was Italian?!
    My bad

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  24. Veronique everytime Aimee and I go to my favourite French cafe Aimee has an Orangina, there aren't too many place in Perth where you can buy it so she never misses that opportunity :)

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle