Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Calling Foul on Pepsi for Their "Forever Young" Super Bowl Ad

In the early 80's, when Steve Jobs recuited Pepsi marketer and president, John Sculley to run Apple, he famously challenged him with this question: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"

Pepsi's new marketers have built up immunity to such a challenge with a new ad theme, "Every generation refreshes the world." For today's Pepsi, there's no difference at all between selling sugared water and changing the world. (It's moot point, actually, because Steve Jobs has built up an even stronger immunity to any impulse he might have to hire another Pepsi marketer.)

The ad was exceptionally well crafted and executed, clever in its strategy, superficially enjoyable—but horrible nonetheless.

Here are my top four emotional reasons for wanting to run from the room screaming when this ad comes on. (I don't actually do that, I just press "skip" on my TiVo remote.):
  • I resent advertisers playing the cheap trick of licensing clips and tunes that trigger treasured emotional memories in the hopes of attaching them to their brand. (I have the last laugh here, because it's my resentment that accrues to their brand.)
  • I resent advertisers who entice Bob Dylan to sell his image, likeness, and music just to sell sugared water and thereby sully the glorious memory of his previous sellout to Victoria's Secret.
  • I resent advertisers who entice will.i.am to sell his image, likeness, and performance to enhance sugared water with the emotional resonance of the "Yes We Can" video he did for Obama's campaign.
  • I resent advertisers asking us to take solemnly the notion that we are what we drink. (At least when Heinkeken asked us to wrap ourselves in the mantle of their brand, they had the good humor to hire John Turturro to ham it up and play the post-modern irony gambit.)
In the classic cola wars going back to the sixties Pepsi has consistently tried to peel younger drinkers away from Coke with a series of youth-oriented campaigns—Pepsi Generation, Choice of a New Generation, For Those who Think Young. Someone must have noticed that members of the original Pepsi Generation are now sixty-somethings. Rather than throw the geezers overboard, they tried to embrace us by offering a split-screen duet of two young generations. From that perspective, the choice of Dylan and his song, "Forever Young," were brilliant.

It was an attempt to map Obama's post-partisan meme onto a post-generational landscape. In Pepsi's world, we now have two young generations, one of which just happens to be collecting Social Security.

Mickeleh's Take: Look closely at the matched images that Pepsi used in the spot. They're all perfectly equivalent except for the styling. The despairing message: nothing has really changed from then to now. It's all the same. It's merely refreshed. Just like the Pepsi logo and packaging. Refresh the logo, refresh the world. Forever young.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

compelling review of the ad.

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D said...

This is so depressing that I can't go on commenting.
--Fellow Social Security Recipient, aka charter member of The Pepsi Generation

Nathan Gilliatt said...

Is it ok if I react negatively to the ad's implication that there's nobody between the Boomers and their kids?

blarney_stone said...

As a couple of Baby Boomers, and Dylan fans, it took less than 10 seconds for us to figure what Pepsi's point was... Back to the Future, or so we wished. Too bad Dylan sold out. Not his style.


http://www.bonanzle.com/blarney_stone

blarney_stone said...

As a couple of Baby Boomers, and Dylan fans, it took less than 10 seconds for us to figure what Pepsi's point was... Back to the Future, or so we wished. Too bad Dylan sold out. Not his style.


http://www.bonanzle.com/blarney_stone

Holy said...

Well i would say one who is moving forward towards success there are people who are jealous of their success they tend to make such ways where they can lower down their production and become value less in front of public.

dsi r4

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy a video on YouTube called Bob Dylan's Pepsi Blues. It was just put up yesterday, and it's very funny.

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing