Thursday, August 6, 2009

What if they conclude it's all about Pepsi?

I'll admit that I'm obviously stupider than advertising firms. Somehow I have this weird notion that advertising should be directly associated with a particular brand. Even if you're showing polar bears or gorillas or whatever, you need to associate said cutesy advertising image with some brand. Gorillas trying to destroy luggage works very well, for example.

But these advertising execs are wiser than I am, and often seek to obscure the brand that is being advertised:

COMMERCIALS for Coca-Cola are sometimes so completely shrouded by storytelling that viewers can make a game of brand-spotting....In the global advertising campaign called Open Happiness that was introduced in January, the Coca Cola Company takes the game to a logical last step by omitting any reference to the brand in a catchy song it created and sold last winter.

So you have this "Open Happiness" song, it's charted with varying success in different countries, and there may be additional "Open Happiness" songs in the future.

But so what?

Perhaps if there was a huge, Rick Astley-like viral campaign that ensured that everyone thought "Coca Cola" when they heard "Open Happiness" stuff, it might work. But does Jodie Beckley even know that the song that inspired her so much is associated with a particular soft drink?

Well, FueledByRock certainly knew about the association. See the first entry in this thread:

Pretty corny song, but I guess it's alright. It'll probably be pretty successful, seeing as Pepsi will most likely use this in every damn commercial of theirs. I read an article that said Open Happiness will be to Pepsi what I'm Lovin' It is to McDonald's.

FueledByRock subsequently edited the entry:

Edit: It's actually Coke, not Pepsi.

FueledByRock goofed and corrected the error, but how many people will goof and not realize their error? Or how many will think that Coca-Cola is a front for the REAL sponsor of the video? I'm sure that the people that (falsely) believe that the Mormons own Coca-Cola would have a field day with some of the lyrics. And is "I want the sun to shine all the time" a subliminal endorsement for nuclear power?

Of course, the worse danger is that people ascribe great meaning to the song...and then discover it's just a soft drink jingle. Then perhaps some 21st century inspirationist may ask the question that Steve Jobs asked of John Sculley many years ago:

Steve Jobs asked John Sculley whether he wanted to sell bottled sugar-water his whole life or whether he wanted a chance to change the world.

Whatever one may think of John Sculley, and whatever one thinks of his accomplishments at Pepsi (both internationally and during the Cola Wars), I suspect that his brief tenure at (then) Apple Computer will have a longer effect than anything he did for Pepsi.
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