Coke Pepsi, . For reference, I 57 years male. Written Assignment: Analyzing Advertisements Essay - Rough Draft Analyzing Advertisements Overview: Logical argumentation studied accepted forms argument.
The Soda Wars: Analyzing Messages in Advertising
The battle between two soda giants, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has been raging for many years. Both products are hugely successful, with world-wide brands and a wide array of products beyond their titular sodas. Similarly, their advertising campaigns and the competition that ensues (especially during big advertising events like the Super Bowl) is legendary. Both have recently unveiled several new campaigns that are worthy of analysis. Pepsi launched the "Refresh Project," aimed at encouraging civic participation and charitable endeavors. They also released a more conventional Superbowl commercial. Coke has a new campaign called "Stay Extraordinary" and also, naturally, created some one-off Super Bowl advertising. While Pepsi's charitable aims are admirable, Coke provides more compelling, innovative, and amusing content during their advertisements, which in turn makes the product more appealing to the consumer.
The "Refresh Project" takes its aim at social activism. The campaign began in 2010 and "saw the brand focus on doling out $20 million in grants to consumers, rather than run its traditional celeb-studded marketing campaigns" (Zmuda, 2011). The people in the advertisement are real consumers, most engaged in some form of physical action (e.g. fixing a bike, sledding, and running) that implies that Pepsi's aim is not only charity, but also an overall investment in health. The ad features monetary figures that Pepsi has given out to various community programs, including winter coat donations and bike trail construction. The voiceover, music, and cast, bring a young, vibrant mood to the ad. The ad is focused on a large audience, though given the mention of online submissions, the demographic is potentially a younger, politically-active viewer. Further, the ad takes pains to show people from several different communities, giving the sense that Pepsi is involved all over the country and that no one is excluded.
While the ad asks the viewer to become more involved in their community, it does not appear to want to guilt the viewer or portray tragic circumstances. The message is actually, "Last year, Pepsi put hundreds of your good ideas into action. This year we're doing even more" (Pepsi, 2011). So there is a degree of credit given to the viewer for participating in this program. The name "Refresh Project" alone has a double meaning. Refreshment is something that a drink provides, to quench a thirst. But refresh also, in this case, implies the rehabilitation of a community, through civic engagement. "Refresh your world" is the slogan that the viewer is left with, and it functions as an exhortation to become as involved in one's respective community as Pepsi has been. So while there is a degree of pathos involved, particularly in the implication that if we do not support Pepsi, we are not supporting humankind, the rhetorical most at work is ethos. Pepsi is like a parent, telling the audience in imperative terms that they must communicate their ideas to the company in order to help the community.
What's most interesting about this advertisement is that, beyond the brief sound effect of a can opening in the beginning and an image of cans at the end, there is no soda-related content in it. Because Pepsi is a nationally-renowned company, presumably brand recognition is not a huge concern. Thus, even though a viewer without any knowledge of Pepsi would not learn more about the product, they would come away with the impression that Pepsi is a responsible, charitable company. This is the ad's goal: to improve the brand's overall reputation, rather than to specifically promote a product.
The aim of Pepsi's Super Bowl advertising is quite different. In fact, the two ad campaigns could not be more divergent. Where the "Refresh Project" is family-friendly and concerns itself with community involvement, "Love Hurts" is primarily comedic and attempts to create shock value that will get the viewer talking. This is in line with most Super Bowl advertising. The Super Bowl is prime real estate for event advertising, as many people watch the game for the commercials over the game itself. As such, Pepsi created an ad that was meant to generate attention, conversation, and possibly even controversy. "Love Hurts" features a couple, with a husband whose wife repeatedly hits, shoves, or kicks him when he orders food that is unhealthy. He must order a fruit cup over French fries and she puts a bar of soap in his mouth while he is hiding in the bathtub eating a hamburger. She is scowling and shrewish, while the husband whines in complaint over her abuse. The ad is quite problematic from the outset from a feminist point-of-view. It only gets more so during its climax, which has the couple seated on a park bench both drinking Pepsi Max. The husband is surprised, thinking he has been caught disobeying again, when the wife says, "Pepsi Max: Zero calories" (Pepsi Max, 2011). It seems to be a rare bonding moment for the couple, as the husband responds, "Maximum taste" (Pepsi Max, 2011). Then a young female jogger comes by and waves to the husband, who is caught looking at her. The wife then hurls the Pepsi can at the man, but hits the woman, knocking her to the ground. The couple then runs away.
Without a doubt, it is a bold move to have one of the final images of an advertisement be the product's use as a weapon against an innocent bystander. The couple comes off as extremely unlikable: the husband a simpering, though deceptive, weakling, and the wife an abusive monster. Why, then, would Pepsi choose to have this couple be their spokespeople on such a large-scale national platform? The message appears to be that Pepsi feels this couple is relatable. Much Super Bowl advertising is targeted at men, often of young adult to middle-age, perhaps married themselves. Pepsi seems to be saying, if you have a life like this, with a nagging wife and a penchant for ogling athletic young women, this product is for you.
Going back to the dialogue of the ad, it does impart two critical bits of information about the product, something that the previous Pepsi ad did not. John Sicher, a writer for Beverage Digest, is quoted in Advertising Age as saying, "the Refresh Project by itself isn't enough to market Pepsi's cola brands. They need, in addition, more product-oriented advertising and marketing" (qtd. In Zmuda, 2011). So, judging on that level of success, "Love Hurts" stands out. The central idea of the ad is that Pepsi Max is both healthful (at least to the degree that it is low in calories) and tastes good. All of the cravings for food that the husband had could be satisfied with this product, rather than resorting to similarly delicious but fattening options like pie. But the overarching idea that the ad satisfied was, even if you reach accord in your marriage with beverage choice, you will still have a wife who is going to impart physical injury.
As a Super Bowl offering, the ad succeeded in being placed in many critics' "best of" lists and generated a lot of web-based conversation. Online viewing of advertising is important in today's market and this ad had a moment that many people probably wanted to go back and check, to make sure that they did not just imagine they saw a woman be clubbed by a soda on television. Curiously, this ad marked a return to the Super Bowl for Pepsi, which took last year off completely. In addition, it is important to note that this ad was for Pepsi Max, as Pepsi itself did not advertise (Zmuda, 2011).
Coca-Cola has taken a different tack in its inspirational advertising, which is the genre into which "Refresh Project" also falls. Their campaign is called "Stay Extraordinary." The description on their corporate YouTube page for this advertisement is, "A large-scale exploration of extraordinary people preparing to go off and do extraordinary things, large and small. These are the kinds of moments that are fueled by Diet Coke" (Coca-Cola "Stay," 2010). The ad begins with its most compelling element, a pulsating and dramatic song, giving the content on-screen more urgency than it otherwise would engender. The "extraordinary things" Coke references are, in order of their appearance in the ad: electronics or robotics design, neonatal nursing, and political speech-giving. Each vignette features a single actor, performing his job, but just prior to a moment of inspiration, he or she drinks some Diet Coke.
The music (indie rock) and the age of the actors (young adult to early-middle age) give clues as to the intended audience of the advertisement. The ad debuted during the Oscars, which a brand spokesperson noted is because the company is "consistently focused on the core attributes and the core qualities of the brand, that's taste and style" (qtd. In Zmuda, 2011). The…