Dairy Foods dines with the French ambassador to the United States and finds lunch delicious but a marketing campaign too heavy on the cheese.



Delice de Bourgogne

Dairy Foods editorial intern Katie Carper dined at the French embassy in Washington, D.C. , courtesy of The Cheeses of France Marketing Council which held an event there last month during  the Summer Fancy Food show. Here is her report.

 

Three days before France’s July 14th celebration of its nation’s past, French ambassador François Delattre focused on France’s modern ventures. The ambassador hosted a luncheon honoring the Cheeses of France Marketing Council’s new advertising campaign, which encourages American consumers to make French cheese a part of their regular diet. Having just spent four delicious months living amongst the French, I was eager to attend the luncheon for the chance to sample some of the fromage I had such difficulty parting with.
When I first arrived at the ambassador’s residence, I was instantly struck by the beauty of the impressive building. It is set back from the road and completely surrounded by a tall iron gate that instantly makes you feel important when it opens and grants you entrance. The glamorous interior reminded me of a modern-day palace. The luxurious draperies, the beautiful paintings and marble busts, and the vaulted ceilings give the first floor an elegance that made me question whether it was truly possible that people lived here. 
I was then guided into a side room with other guests to listen to the ambassador's remarks and watch  a new video advertisement, which will shown online.


Daphinois

A lunch that was far from "everyday"

The ad titled “Take Two,” depicting two men using French cheese to seduce their women, is clearly meant to send a glamorous message to Americans, but it struck me as a little outdated and “cheesy.” The concept seems to be targeted to an elite, gourmet group of Americans. Though French cheese is worthy of being a delicacy, if the campaign’s message is “everyday perfect,” the advertisement does not seem to match.  But you be the judge. See "Take Two" and "Everyday Perfect" on the Cheeses of France website.
The menu that afternoon was also far from “everyday.” The meal began with a smoked salmon salad atop Chaource, a slightly salty cheese with a cream cheese consistency. We were then served a beef fillet served with a potato and Beaufort, a hard, sharp cheese. Following the beef course was the traditional French cheese course. The cheese plate had a variety of cheeses which we were advised to taste in order, from mildest to strongest. The cheese plate highlighted the fact that French cheeses can be both mild, like a brie, as well as strong-a range that is hard to find in American supermarkets.
The meal ended on a refreshing note, with marinated berries topped with a delicately shaped spoonful of raspberry sorbet. French truffles were then passed around the table as coffee was served. The meal was decadent without being overindulgent-much like the French cheeses being highlighted.


Port Salut

Not just for special occasions

The French cheese advertising campaign has a noble goal: to give gourmet cheese an important, everyday role in American life-much like the role it has in France. In my opinion, it will be a difficult task to convince Americans that specialty cheeses can be enjoyed every day, not only on special occasions. Therefore, why not make advertisements that average Americans can relate to?
For instance, because most Americans shy away from difficult French pronunciations, why not poke fun at that? I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Cheeses of France Marketing Council to find a place for French cheese in American supermarkets, but I also think that Americans do not need to be convinced of the quality and gourmet character of French cheese.
Hopefully, these new advertising efforts will encourage Americans to fall in love with French cheese, because this cheese is good. Once you try it, you will want to see it in American supermarkets.

 

Katie Carper spent four months in Strasbourg, France. She is a senior at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
 
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