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For my Media Discourses topic I have selected the one on “Advertising and Branding”. The two brands/advertisements I have chosen are none other than those of the well-recognized Pepsi Co. and Coca Cola Ltd. But to make it a bit more interesting the products I chose and will be discussing are “Pepsi Max” and “Coke Light”, the new “healthy” additions to both companies. Secondly, it is worth noting that to expand the semiotic aspect of the advertisements I have chosen a printed advertisement for Pepsi Max and a video advertisement for Coke Light. I believe this will cover a wider variety of factors which can be discussed and analyzed; and that if it were kept to the print media only we wouldn’t have been able to cover the semiotics like music, gestures etc. Over the course of this assignment we shall study the various semiotics: colors used, the slogans, music, clothing, gestures & expressions, camera angles etc used in the respective advertisements. It is amazing how everything from the simple bottle-design, the text used in the advertisement to the whole implementation of a video advertisement is perceived differently and holds different, yet invaluable meanings. We shall further investigate the meanings of these “signs” plus “tools” used and how they can influence and affect the audiences and consumers. I shall touch the point of “sex” used for selling in the advertisements of such brands and name a few others who use such tactics. After the photographs and advertisements are discussed to full extent we shall examine these brands with a more holistic viewpoint, where they stand and the image they are trying to portray. To make the argument more authentic I shall incorporate examples, pictures, references from the sources I have researched from etc. even though these two brands are “clichéd” I believe they serve as a prime example in today’s world of the leading brand wars and shall be insightful in the topic at hand. At the end I shall give you a bibliography of all the material and books I consulted as a resource for this essay. I believe the following exhaustive account of semiotics hand-in-hand with media highlights its importance in today’s marketing world.
While surfing the web I came across an advertisement of Coca Cola ltd on their product “Coke Light”. I believe it was formed by the branding team of Coke Light and no one individual can be accredited to having made the whole advertisement. I will now try to analyze the visual communication that connected the image of the product and the consumer; for these resulting ideas benefit the sales volume and profitability of the product. As a whole, if you watch the advertisement, it portrays and targets the young, healthy and “sexy” people being the ones who consume Coke Light.
Conforming to the cultural norms we have specific mental schemas and opinions which belong to the society we live in mostly. Based on these we perceive what we see differently. For someone like me, an advertisement of coke selling the point of “sex” might be more acceptable than someone with a more conservative mind-set, living in a different society. So it is important to realize that the following ad makes sense to me and appeals to me because it follows the conventions of my social life and in the same way in some aspects appeals to a much wider consumer base. For instance the iconic colors used as semiotics in this ad are popular throughout the world. Almost everyone can relate red and black to Coca Cola and this advertisement makes full use of it. Using rather beautiful models (a guy and a girl) in the ad, taking place on a beach, they play along with the wholesome, “powerful” theme. Red is a dominating color which grabs the attention of the viewers/consumers and leads them to act on what appeals to their senses. This is exploited in what the woman wears, i.e. a red gown with a feminine exuberance and in the Coke (written in red) Light (written in black). This can signify the woman’s power and/or control and the confidence in the quality of the product. Black is what the man adorns completing the colors of the brand. Secondly, to my knowledge he wears black to keep the attention off of him in the ad at first and converge it onto the more prominent woman. The background helps and most settings are leading the focus on the tow models. The overall dressing is deemed as “sexy” in today’s world and even though such shows are considered provocative, here they have a meaning of “comfortableness” and a “daring nature”. She furthers this persona by constantly sending subtle signals to the guy while he swims in the sea. The guy takes full notice while making no approach. Upon reaching his bench he starts buttoning up his black shirt facing the other way from the girl. What he hears next is her opening the can of Coke Light which brings a smile on his face. Upon dressing up he turns to her as she continues trying to tempt him. They then close up on the guy to show that he has a priest’s collar and this puts the woman in an awkward position. But the tension is eased as the guy walks over to the girl and “blesses” her for having “Coke Light” in her hands leaving her all flattered. This gives a “holy” aspect to the whole advertisements and finishes off with the slogan “Have a great break”. Humor has been incorporated to full extent and helps immensely in the formulation of a successful and memorable commercial. Millions of hits on this ad authenticate this belief.
The second advertisement that I have chosen is from a local magazine and it is of Pepsi Max. We are well aware that Pepsi and Coca Cola are direct competitors and therefore when one comes up with an idea the other follows with his own innovations. The ad is a one page picture showing a bottle as well as a can of Pepsi Max, with an effect of the can breaking through the page which is depicted as a hard, solid wall. The fact that there are flowery and bold colors come off strikingly well in the advertisement.
The design of the bottle is simple with the colors red white and black used, black replacing the well known blue in the Pepsi sign. The design is minimalist with no excessive clutter or visual distractions. The formal layout of the whole ad gives a “Web 2.0” vibe. It is safe to say that the picture was crafted by the local graphic designers working in the Pepsi team. This we can see from the usage of lower case letters in the new Pepsi logo which is reminiscent of the “web 2.0” format. This new look shows that drinking Pepsi Max is a modern, networked and social way of living. It again focuses on the whole, on the young generation, possessing the same mythic meanings as its Coke counterpart. The logo creates familiarity with a whole new essence to the consumers based on its unique presentation. Pepsi Max has concentrated on the shape of the bottle making it newer, black in color, portraying a “powerful” image which is not common to other cold beverages. Upon consulting other video advertisements of this same brand I have come to realize not much is different in the mythical meanings of both of them. They pretty much target the same young, healthy generation as a target audience, carry pretty much the same slogan and have the same marketing mix. What differs is the brand pull it brings with it and the sponsors they get.
Everyone is familiar with the cola wars. The major problem faced by both of them is that of constant growth as claimed by Philip Kotler (2008).
Through these advertisements both these brands are trying to achieve but one goal, i.e. to increase profitability. The various semiotics and methods used have got to relate to the brand in the end in some way or the other and in turn it is this great backing of a brand name which ensures their safe progress in the competing world. Semiotics can be handled differently as discussed by P. Kotler and G. Armstrong (2008):
“â€¦ stated by the global brand manager of Coca Cola, in Spanish speaking Coke Light ads position the soft drink as an object of desire, rather than as a way to feel good about yourself as diet Coke is positioned in the United States. This desire positioning plays off research showing that Coca-Cola Light is seen in other parts of the world as a vibrant brand that exudes sexy confidence.”
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