Feature-yoplait-food-1966-savignac-cow
Aug 21, 2015 • By

Holy cow! Yoplait revisits an ad icon

Yoplait’s Michonnette is a cow like no udder.

When Yoplait USA announced its original yogurt would have 25 percent less sugar, it turned to a beret-wearing cow that spoke with a French accent to promote the change. The idea was to emphasize the brand’s French heritage and authentic roots.

But what many may not realize is how close the new ad comes to the original Yoplait branding. The beret-wearing cow is not the first cow to play a leading role in the brand’s advertising.

That honor belongs to Michonnette (pronounced “mi-show-net”), who debuted 50 years ago in September 1965 with the launch of the Yoplait brand.

Michonnette was created by one of France’s most popular commercial artists, Raymond Savignac, who brought color, wit and style to the French advertising industry.

yoplait-food-1966-savignac-cow

He drew Michonnette lying in a meadow with milk streaming from her udders into Yoplait cups she held in her hooves.

Michonnette was one of two logos created for Yoplait’s launch, and existed alongside the brand’s original six-petal flower – each petal representing the original French regional cooperatives that united and later created the Yoplait brand. (Later, the logo was changed to depict just five petals after two of the co-ops merged.)

The original painting of Yoplait’s Michonnette is displayed at the Villa Montebello Museum in the coastal city of Trouville, Savignac’s adopted home.

Yoplait launch in September 1965

If the painting of Michonnette wasn’t unusual enough, having a real cow at the 1965 Yoplait kickoff was.

For Yoplait’s grand launch party on Sept. 25, 1965, marketers had the grandiose idea of having a live version of Michonnette inside the building of the company’s advertising agency in Paris.cow in lobby

The plan was to have Michonnette appear on the sixth floor, where the celebration was held.

“But because of security reasons, Michonnette couldn’t go up to the sixth floor. Instead, she greeted guests in the lobby,” says Mathilde Delabie, a Yoplait representative.

The cow in the new Yoplait ad in the U.S. doesn’t show up in a Madison Avenue skyscraper. But he (yes, the milk cow does speak with a male voice – this is advertising, not biology) does make an appearance in the home of the woman in the ad who extols the benefits of Yoplait Original with 25 percent less sugar.

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