Today, Sevrine is making lasagna. She found the quick-cook Barilla noodles at the Haiko supermarket nearby. These noodles have one advantage: they fit in a square baking dish. Our toaster oven will not accommodate a large rectangular pan. So, if we can’t bake it in a square pan, we can’t bake it.
It has been a while since Sevrine made lasagna, and she wanted to know what the recipe on the back indicated for layering the sauce, meat, noodles, and cheese. She could not understand the instructions, so she brought me the box. The reason she could not understand the instructions is not because she does not read English. She does read English. Today, she was showing me some recipes that her previous madam had given her. She could not read the instructions on the back of the Barilla box because they were in French and German. My German is nonexistent, and my French is about as rusty as an old bike left in the rain. So, I looked for the Italian instructions. Even though my Italian is only slightly less rusty than my French, I feel more comfortable reading recipes in Italian. But, there were no Italian instructions. Why not? It is after all a box of lasagna noodles. It would make sense that the instructions would appear in Italian on a package for an Italian ingredient. The ingredients list and basic instructions (220℃ for 20 minutes) were in English, German, Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Dutch (I think), Russian, Arabic, and at least one other language. Why wasn’t the recipe on the back in those same languages? It did not make sense.
Then, I remembered. Marketing does not need to make sense. It does not need to be logical and linear. Marketing is about reaching your audience and getting that audience to buy your product or service. Decisions like which languages to include for the recipe on the back of the box have more to do with the targeted market segment and available real estate on the product packaging than about fairness and equality. Italian does not appear on the back of the Barilla box because Barilla is an Italian company. The Italian market has its very own box in its very own language; just as the US market has its very own box in English. The French and German markets are lumped together on the back of the Barilla box. French and German. German and French. They always seem to be lumped together, except when they are fighting. Then, not so much.
How did the box end up in the Haiko supermarket? Honestly, I haven’t a clue. I am still impressed that Sevrine found lasagna noodles in India, let alone at the store up the street. I suspect that import costs are a key factor. Barilla pasta made for the US market is made in the US, in Iowa. Getting a box of pasta from Europe is cheaper than getting it here from the US. Why not make the pasta here, though, and eliminate the import duties all together? Just yesterday I saw an ad for Leonardo olive oil that targeted the Indian market. That campaign is conducted in English and asks “Have you cooked Indiano style yet?” To which I reply, “Why, yes, actually, I have.”