Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hmm, c'est onctueux

Good French TV commercials are among the most creative in the world. J'adore! Some are better than the actual programming. Subtle wit, full of irony. Or exquisite visuals and music. I find it helpful that they are lumped all together and that the ensemble of the advertisements is heralded with the announcement: Publicité. Time to sit up and pay attention. No interrupting the show. No infomercials. Here comes the fun!

Some food commercials, though, are less than inspired. A mom swooning over a bite of a milk chocolate with a caramel center. Or kids at the dinner table crowing unconvincingly about a microwaveable pocket sandwich harboring melted cheese. The catch phrase most often used in these is "Mmm, c'est onctueux," which in French means "smooth and creamy." But to my Anglophone ears the word onctueux is... unctuous. Gooey. Unappealing and annoying. Just hearing it repeatedly deters me from any unhealthy cravings I might have been thinking of. Which is not a bad thing!

Lacking a linguistic aversion to the word, French viewers of onctueux advertising (and ads for all products that might be remotely considered junk food), get a different deterrent. There are obligatory warnings at the end of these commercials, at the bottom of the screen: "Eat healthy fruits and vegetables and get regular exercise daily. "

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