Thursday, November 13, 2003

Why does Coke say on the side “Best Served Ice Cold”. What is the Coca Cola Company trying to tell us – apart from the obvious – what is the subtext? That we’re too stupid to know how to drink Coke, that Coke taste shit when it’s warm, what?

I personally think it’s something to do with their brand image and all those $bn spent on images of beautiful young people glugging back the brown stuff on hot days with plenty of ice and/or condensation beads. The subtext is ‘Feeling hot & thirsty? – Coke will help because it’s cold’. The connection you are supposed to make is that in warm conditions when we drink most soda, Coke is a better product to choose because it is in some way ‘colder’ than its rivals. Obviously it isn’t - it’s exactly the same temperature as any other drink in the cooler, but you perceive it as such because of all those ice filled commercials with sweaty teens getting ‘refreshed’. And that’s why they tell you on the bottles to drink it ice cold – because then it reinforces their marketing better.

So basically every time someone drinks a Coke without ice / straight from the cooler – what they are actually saying is ‘Fuck you Coca-Cola Company! You’re drink is the same as everyone else’ – sweet, fizzy, fine in it’s way, but basically just a drink’

It’s interesting that I can’t think of single soda advertising campaign that concentrates on the product itself rather than it’s lifestyle implications with the possible exception of Dr Pepper. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Tango whoever – mostly they just show you lifestyle images of varying degrees of naffness and then say ‘drink this because it will in some undefined way make you cooler / more attractive.’ OK some exceptions but I did only say concentrates didn’t I? Tango is probably the nearest with the ‘Hit of the Whole fruit’ and pictures of oranges but it’s so tangled up with enforced ‘wackiness’ the orange bit is entirely obscured – possibly not on purpose . . . Sprite has it’s ‘There is no image – obey your thirst’ schtick but I’m just not buying it. The images used to promote the ‘no image’ line are themselves media hip and again the tag line has no reference to the product’s performance as compared to a competitor : saying that a liquid is thirst quenching hardly differentiates it from it’s competitors. No – it’s just a more cynical ‘lifestyle’ ad campaign. Coke – enuff said, and Pepsi is little different these days, though for many years they did have the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ which was definitely product driven, although it would probably have been just as effective for them to run adverts with David ‘Kid’ Jensen spitting mouthfuls of Coke onto the floor and then shouting ‘that tastes like shit!’ I always hated the stupid mock surprise on those idiots faces – ffs you’ve gone shopping and some low grade celeb and a tv crew start offering you different glasses of cola to try. That the fuck d’you think is inside the tube? Where’ve you been for the last 5 years? Azerbaijan? Where incidentally they now have plenty of both Coke and Pepsi. But anyway that was all long ago.

IMHO the only people still pluggin away with the qualities and benefits of their drink are Dr Pepper. I know it’s odd given that their ads are pretty much a non stop peon to the American Dream – stoops, proms, cheerleaders, prison, but it’s meant ironically (or sort of ironically – I think you’re meant to buy in as well) and the main point is that you have to taste the stuff and then all sorts of good / bad things happen. Either way the focus is on swilling it round your mouth and experiencing Dr P’s unique attributes, hence despite the fact that there is possibly less of the product actually on display than in nearly all other beverage ads it is still the only one that is purely product driven.

You might disagree with me about the Tango ads but I stand by my guns. They’re basically saying ‘Whacky crazy fun people, people LIKE YOU, drink our product.’ The ‘Whole Fruit’ tagline is just to hang your product recall on, whereas Dr P is saying ‘Just try it you big losers. It’s different we know but you may just like it’. Of course Dr Pepper advertising also implies that if you do like it you are then part of some sort of initiated beatnik counterculture society, but hey – you can’t have everything.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Do you love Pepsi or Coke?
SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER and you could win a prepaid VISA gift card!