Transcript of "Analyse graphique : Publicité Pepsi Hendrix [01/2012]"
INTRODUCTION This television commercial advertises a brand of beverage : Pepsi Cola. It was done by BBDO New York advertising agency and it was broadcasted in February 2004. Pepsi is a carbonated soft drink that is produced and manufactured by PepsiCo Incorporated, an American multinational corporation headquartered in Pur- chase, New York. Pepsi is the most important competitor of the Coca-Cola Company, which results in a “Cola War”, a campaign of mutually-targeted television advertisements and marketing campaigns since the 1980s. This advertisement fits in the line of this Cola War.2
DESCRIPTIONSYNOPSIS The scene takes place in 1953, in Seattle. A young boy steps out of a pizzeria ; he eats a pizza. But itmakes him thirsty and he wants to drink. In the street he finds at his left a Pepsi beverage dispenser, and at hisright a Coca-Cola beverage dispenser. Finally he chooses Pepsi, and he takes a bottle. He drinks it in front ofa store near the Pepsi dispenser : he looks at the guitar in showcase and he imagines the music that he can dowith it. Then he turns around to look at an accordion store near the Coca-Cola dispenser and he imagines thesame music with it. He finally prefers the guitar and buys it.WHAT WE CAN SEE AND WHAT WE CAN HEAR It’s a TV commercial in colour. The prevailing colours are warm, that conveys a reassuring feeling, heatand comfortable, as if it was in summer. The ad opens with a long shot of a street, subtitled “Seattle 1953”. Wecan see a few passers-by and a car crosses the shot from the right to the left, making a cut to the next shot. Ananother long shot shows the main character, a young black boy, afro hair styled and dressed with a blue andyellow horizontal striped t-shirt and a jean. He steps out of a pizzeria : he is eating a pizza and now he is thirsty. He walks in the street : he seems happy-go-lucky and curious of everything. He is looking for a beverage: we know it because he takes money from his pocket seeing a blue Pepsi dispenser at his left. But he also saw ared Coca-Cola dispenser at his right. He hesitates between the two brands : we see the each dispenser two times: one time in a full shot and one time in a close shot. During these shots the can see clearly the two brands andtheir logos. Finally the young boy chooses the first dispenser that he saw : Pepsi. He inserts a coin into the dispenser, takes a bottle and starts to drink. He is in front of a store showcase.It’s a pawn shop, as it is written on, that offers secured loans to people, with items of personal property used ascollateral ; we can find second-hand things, not expensive. 3
While he drinks he looks at the guitar : he seems to be charmed by this instrument, and he imagines what he could doing with it. Hitherto there was only a street noise : cars and passers-by talking in the back- ground, but there wasn’t any voices or music. This silence is broken by a music that comes in fade. It’s an ins- trumental song played by a guitar : a famous riff, that rings out when the young boy looks at the guitar after drinking Pepsi. Then there is a medium close shot in high-angle which shows the young boy, subtitled “James Marshall Hendrix, Age 11”. The young boy seems fascinated : he tilts his head to his left shoulder to admire the instrument from all sides. Indeed, the next shot shows series of short inserts, on many sides of the guitar (neck, potentiometer, distortion and volume controller) which represents what the boy is looking. But suddenly the music stops, and there is a close up on the face of the young boy, turning back to the Coca-Cola dispenser. If a fabulous guitar riff rings out in his head when he drinks Pepsi, what is going on with Coca-Cola ? We don’t have to wait long for the answer : the same song rings out but played by accordions ! After that there is a sudden cut with the rest of the song (which goes on until the end of the ad), and a white text on a black background : “Whew… that was a close one.” The next shot shows the young boy inside the store : he holds the guitar in his hands and considers it with admiration. At this moment, a voice says the catchphrase “Nothing sounds better than pizza and Pepsi…Pepsi Cola”, which introduces an animation. The final shot is an animation which shows the logo of the brand, without its name, with the slogan written : “it’s the cola”. The background seems to be the beverage, the cola, because it’s a brown and carbonated liquid. The rotation at the beginning of this animation indicates us it’s the beverage into a bottle. There are 27 shots in the sequence ; its length is 45 secondes. It makes an average of 1.66 shot per second, so this ad has a fast rythm.4
ANALYSIS This advertisement tells us how the little Jimmy Hendrix has been in the mood for guitars thanks toPepsi. It seems to be a historic ad, which shows us a moment before a glory. But in the beginning, until 0”28,it’s just an ordinary scene : a little thirsty boy drinks a Pepsi and looks at a guitar. It is when subtitles indicate usthat this little boy is actually one of the greatest guitarists in the History that this ad takes on new extraordinarymeaning. Before this moment, some indications allow us to guess who this little boy is, and to respect a historiccoherence. First, the background : it is useful because Seattle is the city where Hendrix is born. Then, there isa facial resemblance between the little boy and Hendrix : same skin tone, same expression, same hair. Finally,the guitar, the favorite Hendrix’s instrument ; just before that subtitles with his name appears, we can hearthe beginning of one of his song, Purple Haze, which rings out a few seconds. We feel an effort from Pepsi torespect the historic coherence, but there is just a point which has been modified : Hendrix had not bought hisfirst guitar at the age 11 in a pawn shop, let alone after drinking a Pepsi ! In facts, at age 15, around the time hismother died, he acquired his first acoustic guitar for US$5 from an acquaintance of his father. Pepsi modified the reality in this ad for commercial purposes, which is not very honest, but there isanother point that surprised me : the slander of Coca-Cola. In the Cola War, Pepsi uses to resort to a smearcampaign to promote itself ; it is the same thing in their other ads. Thus, although we can see the two brandsand their logos three times each, by showing drink dispensers, Pepsi is associated with a trendy attitude whe-reas Coca-Cola is associated with an old attitude. The Pepsi dispenser is near the guitar, a cool and trendyinstrument, used by everybody (especially teenagers), whereas the Coca-Cola dispenser is the accordion, aninstrument which was trendy a century ago but now is being old-fashioned. This stereotype is also used in thesong : the riff played by the guitar seems ridiculous when it is played by an accordion ! The text “Whew…thatwas a close one” lets us imagine Hendrix such as an “accordion-hero”, which is also ridiculous. The slogan “It’s the Cola” that we see at the end suppose that there is only one Cola between Pepsi andCoca-Cola. It seems to be also an answer to a question set by the ad : “How Jimmy Hendrix discovered theguitar ?” “It’s [thanks to] the cola”. The catchphrase is said by a man at the end : “Nothing sounds better thanpizza and Pepsi”. Why pizza and Pepsi ? Because the little boy eats a pizza, and the better beverage to go with itis Pepsi. There is a pun with the verb “sounds” that refers to the guitar and the association pizza-pepsi. The main goal of this ad is to amuse spectators, who imagine a funny and ridiculous parallel History. Itworks well, personally I thought that very funny. The main target is certainly teenagers or musicians, who canbe touched by this little boy with a bright future : they can identify themselves with him when they drink Pepsi.They can be amused by the hijack of Purple Haze played by accordions. That’s what I thought when I saw it.Pepsi tries to persuade people to drink their product to be nostalgic of Hendrix : it’s easy but it’s original, andthe ad hits his first mark, amuse spectators and turn in ridicule its main competitor. 5