In Soviet Georgia

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In Soviet Georgia (also called Old People in Russia) was the name of an advertising campaign used by Dannon yogurt in the United States to make the argument that eating the product would make one healthier. The campaign was lucrative for Dannon, allowing it to make profits after years of losses.[1] The campaign ran from 1973[2] to 1978 in U.S. television and print advertisements, and was unique in that it was the first American TV commercial to be produced from inside the Soviet Union.[3]

Creation[edit]

The campaign was penned by the Marsteller advertising agency at the urging of the CEO of Danone's U.S. division at the time, Juan Metzger; he wished to market Dannon yogurt in a more health-conscious direction.

In 1973, the first commercials aired on U.S. television, and the first print advertisements were run in TIME and Newsweek. Similar ad campaigns followed in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978. The commercial entitled Son of Russia won a Clio Award in 1978. It was written by Steve Kasloff. The Creative Director was Peter Lubalin.

Television commercials[edit]

In the commercials, shots of elderly Georgian farmers were interspersed with an off-camera announcer intoning, "In Soviet Georgia, where they eat a lot of yogurt, a lot of people live past 100." Each shot had a caption at the bottom, which would tell the audience the farmer's name and his or her age, which ranged from 95 to 105. One such commercial ended with a shot of an old man eating Dannon yogurt, with a woman who was purported to be his 114-year-old mother looking at him fondly. The announcer intoned, "89-year old Bagrat Tabaghua... ate two cups. That pleased his mother very much."[3] The actual ages of the farmers shown were disputed after the fact and were never proven by the Dannon company.

Success of the campaign[edit]

Advertising periodicals such as Advertising Age, The Chief Executive,[4] and The Wise Marketer[1] cited the commercials as a good example of business strategy. In the case of Advertising Age, they ranked In Soviet Georgia in the Top 50 of the best TV commercials of all time[2] and #89 on the list of the 100 Greatest Advertising Campaigns.[5]

Marketing analysts for The Wise Marketer noted that after the In Soviet Georgia ads, the Dannon company reversed a loss trend and started making profits in 1975, which would not end until the fiscal year 1990, when price hikes for yogurt across the board caused sales to decline.[1]

Reruns[edit]

Starting in 1996, the ads were replayed on the classic television channel TV Land, and its offshoot, TV Land Canada.

Notes and references[edit]