Analysing Coca-Cola advertising

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The drink was created in 1886 by Doctor John Pemberton a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. John Pemberton concocted the “Coca-Cola” formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. The name was a suggestion given by John Pemberton’s bookkeeper Frank Robinson. Being a bookkeeper, Frank Robinson also had excellent penmanship. It was he who first scripted “Coca-Cola” into the flowing letters which has become the famous logo of today.

Advertising has been a major contributing factor in Coke’s modern day popularity. It’s first ever slogan was simply “Drink “Coca-Cola”. It is the world’s most popular soft drink but in recent years it has been getting some stiff competition from Pepsi. This sparked a new wave of advertising to overcome its opposition. The most famous and successful “Coca-Cola” advert is the 1971 ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing advert’.

In the mid nineteen eighties to help in the war between Coke and Pepsi which at that time Coke was losing, they changed the formula. However this was met with strong opposition by the consumer who disliked the ‘New Coke’ and the company was forced to reproduce the original Coke formula under the name of classic Coke, gradually ‘New Coke’ was taken off the shelves and ‘Classic Coke’ became the worlds most popular soft drink again.

The Posters

In class we saw many “Coca-Cola” still poster advertisements and I have chosen three of them to analyse. The first poster that I am going study was launched in 1982 in a series of advertisements all with the slogan “Coke Is It!” This campaign had an emphasis on the product’s qualities of taste and refreshment. The direct, positive statement “Coke Is It!” was meant to appeal to the forthright mood of Americans in the 1980s. “Coke Is It!” played on themes of previous ad campaigns, stressing the quality, the enjoyment and especially the anticipation of drinking a “Coca-Cola”.

The first advert we analysed featured a young woman sitting on a window-sill drinking a bottle of Coke. The room she is sitting in is filled with a golden glow from a lamp on what looks to be a bed-side table. I think that the golden glow is used because gold is very desirable and makes people think of luxury, this is called connotation. In this poster you see the scene from outside the window. You are like a voyeur looking in on the woman. The outside of the window is a large, dull and dirty brick wall yet on the wall you can see a faint golden glow from the lamp in the room and it makes the wall look less dull. I think this is a subliminal message saying that if you drink Coke you will look better too.

The young woman on the window-sill in the poster is the stereotypical type of person you find in the “Coca-Cola” adverts from this time. She’s beautiful, healthy and she looks like she doesn’t have a care in the world. I think this is another subliminal message that when you have a Coke all your troubles disappear. At the bottom of the poster there is the slogan I mention earlier “Coke Is It!” It is in white bold lettering and there is also the traditional “Coca-Cola” symbol that was drawn nearly one hundred years before by Frank Robinson. The logo is very elegantly written and seems to flow maybe Robinson did this because of the flow of the Coke and the way it moves when poured, we will never know.

I think this advert is quite successful in its purpose, it advertises Coke as the thing to be drinking, as a thing of desire as the thing that has been missing from your hand because it has been in our culture for so long it is almost an extension of it. The second advert I am going to analyse is from a different period of time than the first one. This one was from 1989, which is seven years after the previous advert I have analysed. However a lot of the same themes run throughout them.

In this advert there is a man and a woman outside a traditional American car. The man is lifting the woman up into the air, in the background there is a city and on the right there is a bridge. I think the city in the background is San Francisco because the bridge on the right of the poster looks like the Golden gate bridge. The car behind the people is a traditional American car. I think this links in with “Coca-Cola” being the traditional American soft drink. The car from the poster seems to be a Cadillac or a Chevrolet these are both traditional American car manufacturers.

The people in the advert are in the same category as the woman in the other advert. To make the product look better they get attractive young healthy people to appear on them. They do this because if they have an attractive woman on an advert the women aspire to be like them and the men aspire to be with them. The woman on the poster is wearing a white dress that is being blown slightly by the wind and this makes it look very elegant. The woman is holding up a bottle of Coke and her arm goes into the red banner with the slogan in the top. I think the subliminal message from this is that Coke is connected to the people, it’s a peoples company and it makes it seem as if the woman is a part of this grand “Coca-Cola” tradition.

Overall I think this poster achieves its goal which is to advertise “Coca-Cola” as something of desire to the younger generations, who in the future will be the major consumers. The third poster is from the same advertising campaign as the last one. I chose to analyse this one because it has one distinct difference from the other two. This one has a man as the main focus whereas in the others the focus was on women. In this poster there is a man lying down wearing a pair of jeans and no top, he’s holding a bottle of Coke in his hand and he appears to be lying on the bonnet of a car, he also has a portable stereo near his head.

In this poster most of it is taken up by the man who is lying down, again as in the other posters the focus is a healthy and attractive man. He appears to be carefree just lying on his car listening to music and drinking a Coke. He’s what men want to be and who women want to be with. People on their way to work drive past the posters on billboards and they see the relaxed man he appears to have no job and he doesn’t care. Then they notice that it is Coke that’s being advertised. Then without realizing it they start to subconsciously believe that they can become like them by buying and drinking Coke.

There is a lot of connotation in this advert for example the man on the car has golden tanned skin and linking to desire because everyone wants to be tanned and this again make people desire Coke. Another subliminal message in this poster is the hot day. The man is sweating, everything looks hot and dusty this also makes you want to drink “Coca-Cola”. As is the second poster I analysed, the person mergers into the banner, again creating the feeling that they are part of the product. In a sense they are, they are part of “Coca-Cola’s” grand image of Coke being youthful and being ‘cool’.

I think this poster is probably the most successful of the three I have analysed it seems to appeal more to me because of the notion of being carefree. The others have other subliminal messages which may affect other people more strongly than they affected me. This has always been the strength of Coke’s advertising, its diversity and its success at being able to persuade wide varieties of people, because everyone sees something different the advertisements, everyone has a different way of viewing things.

Television Advertisements

I am going to analyse and compare two different television advertisements the first was broadcast in 1971 and is one of the most popular adverts ever made. This advert is known as the “Hilltop” advert which wanted to “teach the world to sing”. “I’d like to teach the world to sing” (1971) Originally “I’d like to teach the world to sing” was not a success when it was first released on the radio as a jingle, so much so it even got hate mail. However after the disappointment of the radio advert the producer tried to persuade the “Coca-Cola” executives to let him create a television commercial which included the song.

The “Coca-Cola” executives said “Yes” and they gave him $500,000 which made it the most expensive advert ever made at the time. Originally it was set to be filmed in Britain with a thousand children on a hillside in Cornwall. However they were forced to film it in Italy instead because of the weather. Also the amount of children had to be cut down. When the advert was finally put on television it became the first ever advert to receive over 100,000 letters of fan mail all saying the same thing, they wanted a single. “Coca-Cola” agreed to this and “I’d like to teach the world to sing” became the Christmas number one.

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