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‘Du pain, du vin, du Boursin’ – the story of a classic French advert

A simple yet effective marketing campaign that turned a herby fromage frais into a household name on both sides of the Channel

Boursin was one of the first brands permitted to advertise on French television in 1968 Pic: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock

Rarely has the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid) been more effective in advertising as the famous (on both sides of the channel) slogan to promote the fine herb/garlic soft cheese, Boursin. 

Du pain, du vin, du Boursin’ is ingrained in the brain of every French person of a certain age and, indeed, on many in the United Kingdom, too.

Roots in Normandy

François Boursin founded his cheese factory in 1957 and gave his own name to the brand in 1963. 

It was invented in a dairy in Bonneville-sur-Iton, a village near Evreux (Eure, Normandy).

While Boursin is today classified an ‘industrial cheese’, in the early days it was actually deemed to be fromage frais. 

Read more: French spreadable cheese La Vache Qui Rit celebrates 100th year

Positioned in the market as a cheese

The clever affiliation with bread and wine in the advertising slogan (which saw great success from the 1970s to the 1990s) meant the consumer viewed it as a fromage, and thus great for the cheese course or picnics instead of dessert.

However, some future-thinking mass marketing prior to that had already firmly established the brand in the French consumer consciousness. 

Read more: MAP: A tour of France by local cheeses - how many have you tried?

Television advert pioneer

On October 1, 1968, a sketch featuring actor Jacques Duby – as an insomniac who repeats “Du Boursin! Boursin! Du Boursin!” before treating himself to some Boursin in the middle of the night – was the very first of five brand adverts permitted on French television for the first time. 

Publicis, an agency founded in 1925, booked the ads. 

The others were for Régilait powdered milk, Schneider electrical goods, Bel knitwear and Virlux butter.

Prior to that, only non-branded agricultural producers (canned peas, Agen prunes, Breton artichokes), were allowed to advertise foodstuffs on television.

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