Le Trefle: Paper Has a Great Future

This commercial advertises the French brand of toilet paper, Le Trefle. The video was posted on March 7th on YouTube and is extremely popular due to its 4,498,413 views. Because this commercial originally aired in France and because it is advertising a French product, the audience is primarily French adults who would be buying toilet paper for themselves or for their families. However, another aspect of this commercial would be reaching a younger audience in order to show them that technology cannot compensate for every paper product, and in this case, nor would they want it to.
This commercial is compelling due to its simplistic nature. Many toilet paper ads tend to heighten the toilet paper experience by advertising softness, thickness, or luxurious status. This ad chooses to demonstrate the obvious. Le Trefle relies on pointing out that tablets cannot replace toilet paper in this commercial, and they do so in a humorous manner. This technique speaks to specific audience which was taken into account when this commercial was produced. They needed to advertise to people who would be buying toilet paper as well as those who realize they might need to add toilet paper to their shopping list. Advertising a necessity is advantageous because most people agree that you need that product, they just have to be sold on a particular brand. The only leg work to be done is to convince the audience that the brand itself that is being sold is a need as well. The technique used to evaluate the audience type comes from the questionnaires of the VALS system.
In the 1970’s the VALS system was introduced to study the changing values and lifestyles of consumer behavior. There are eight VALS categories that are a combination of sources of personal motivation and the number of resources available to that audience. For this commercial, the audience types evaluated by the VALS system could be fall into two possible categories. The first possibility is the audience called the Makers. This group is described as practical and as people who like practical and functional products. For a toilet paper commercial, an audience like this would be ideal because of the practicality of the product itself. The other audience type that might be targeted indirectly would be the Experiencers. This audience type is described as having an interest in new products and services. With this commercial, showing the versatility of the tablet would cause them to agree with the man in the commercial; however, when the use of the tablet is limited in use at the end of the commercial, it might make this audience realize that there is still some value in traditional products. The slogan at the end states, “Paper has a great future.” After that, it shows a single roll of toilet paper that says under it, “with extra paper.” Le Trefle believes in the use of paper so much that they are willing push their argument further towards proposing that one can have more of their toilet paper because it is an irreplaceable necessity. The audience had to come to this conclusion on their own, but the style of advertising aided in this process.
This product was advertised using the pseudo non-ad format of code transgressing. This ad type shows ways advertising tries to gain attention with an audience that “knows better” than to succumb to traditional advertising techniques that promote progress and a state of the art appeal. Code transgressing attempts to allow the audience to read into the commercial by understanding what is happening. For example, in the Le Trefle commercial uses a sequence of events that shows the man using his tablet in ways that many commercials might typically use. These commercials usually attempt to show the audience how their product is better than the obsolete ones. The final scene in this commercial is what allows it to be code transgressing. It took a sequence of traditional advertising techniques and reduced it to a conclusion that was logical and easy to comprehend by the audience. The goal of these ads are to make the audience feel intelligent by understanding the advertising technique, and at the end of this commercial, the audience should get a feeling of satisfaction for agreeing with the conclusion. It operates with simplicity in order to get a larger audience understanding with the hope that they have favorable feelings about the company or product being sold.
With that being said, this is a successful ad because it offers the obvious: people need toilet paper. The clever comparison to the digital age and the necessities we need daily further inclines the audience towards the Le Trefle brand of toilet paper. It seems like such a simple connection, but the fact that the Le Trefle brand made the argument puts them ahead of other toilet paper brands that simply try to make toilet paper much more luxurious than it really is. Le Trefle advertises toilet paper for what it is, and it shows that there is one thing that technology can never be. This ad is a simple reminder that we still need the basics in this digital age, and when you realize that a tablet will not cut it, Le Trefle will be there for you in the future.

Megan Denney

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