Explicit and Implicit Social Messages in a Recent Coca-Cola Commercial
Directed by feature-filmmaker Bryan Singer, Coca Cola’s most recent television ad in their “Real” campaign features Salma Hayeck in the supposed natural setting of a business meal at an upscale Hollywood restaurant. While presenting many of the elements that Jib Fowles discusses in his essay “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals,” this Coke ad also portrays the duality of women in our society.
The only unambiguous message of this commercial is the product it endorses: as product recognition is most important in advertising, Singer subtly creates the “Affiliation” appeal. The fast-moving ad features unidentified people and indeterminate foods; however, amidst the myriad of attractive imagery stands the easily-recognized Coca-Cola contour bottle. While Coke is rarely dispensed in glass bottles anymore, the choice to present it in this container distinguishes it as nostalgic and thus familiar, as opposed to the vague and thus anonymous food that the ad is not promoting. This dichotomy of the indeterminate food and prominent Coke bottle serves as one example of the duality I will discuss throughout the essay: Salma Hayeck resembles the Coke bottle’s distinction in contrast to the unknown people also featured in the commercial. Additionally, the ad evokes affiliation from audiences with its text “Craving” “Coca-Cola” “Real,” which resonates the company’s previous slogan, “The Real Thing.” Essentially viewers acknowledge the reality of Coke through their memories of prior ad campaigns.
As I mentioned, the pace of this commercial is fast-moving, likely intended to mirror real life; in a thirty-second ad, viewers witness our “Need to Aggress” (Fowles) as a result of time. The cinematic cuts between the kitchen and dining hall create a sense of disorientation that many viewers probably experience in their hectic lives. This 30-second event isolates the frantic pace of one meal, one day, or essentially any duration of time. Furthermore, the ad displays how others’ demands create our stressful schedules: Hayeck must hurriedly eat in the kitchen while her party waits for her. Her response to her time constraints is thus aggressive, as she eats a small meal and (more importantly) finishes an entire bottle of Coke (satisfying her “Craving”) in the duration of the ad. This conveys our societal standard of prioritizing our obligations to others over our attention to our needs, which any woman likely feels during the course of any day. Thus while this ad could superficially appeal to women, it reinforces our society’s expectations of altruism and selflessness for women while encouraging them to make time to satisfy their “Craving[s].”
The kitchen shots of this commercial illustrate the dual nature of the ad, as it presents both Fowles’ “Need for Autonomy” and negative aspects and stereotypes. Viewers may not...