Product: Diet Pepsi
In this review, a series of Diet Pepsi advertisements were taken into investigation. Since 2011, the drink has been endorsed by the 40-year-old American-based Columbian actress, Sofia Vergara. In 2013, Vergara was featured in a series of two TV commercials, namely Toast and Come on. The slogan for this promotional campaign is “Love Every Sip”. As part of the promotional campaign, Vergara also briefly appears in an episode of the Ellen Degeneres Show, a talk show targeted at adult women. In the first commercial, the scene starts with a wedding party in a garden. A server is seen with a tray, holding a glass of Diet Pepsi. Vergara tries to catch his attention, but the MC mistakes that she wants to be the first person to give a toast to the bride and the groom. Vergara appears to be rejecting to give a toast, but she fails doing so, hence she gives a short speech and gets Diet Pepsi in the end. In Come on, Vergara is shown dining outdoors with a female friend.
Her attention is drawn by a can of Diet Pepsi nearby, but a man sitting at an adjacent table mistakenly thinks that Vergara is paying attention to him. In the end of the commercial, a waiter delivers the Diet Pepsi to Vergara while the man comes to her table as well. Vergara takes her Diet Pepsi, and the man walks away in embarrassment. The intended audience of this promotional campaign is young female adult despite the fact that the actress herself is 40 years old. In both commercials, she is seen having long hair and wears a blue dress that which shows her cleavage. Together with her statuesque physique, these features all match traditional values of feminine beauty. The polarization of good girl/bad girl can also be seen in these advertisements: Vergara appears to be pure and innocent when she tries to refuse from giving the first toast speech in Toast and when she shows that she is attracted by the drink instead of the man in the end of Come on. At some points of both of the commercials, several postures which suggest flirtation or seduction are displayed, including giggling, pursing or licking lips and tossing hair. Thus, it can be said that most male audience would find these advertisements appealing. However, these advertisements have not lowered women’s status; in fact women’s status is somehow raised in the commercials.
The heroine in Toast has been shown to be able to solve an embarrassing situation (giving a speech although unwilling and apparently unprepared). This might be contradictory to how women are usually depicted in the media (weak, helpless, needing to be ‘rescued’ by someone else). Instead, she is shown to be smart, quick-witted and with the ability to solve problems. In Come on, it is interesting that this commercial does not directly raise women’s status by illustrating a good female lead; it rather shows us the shortcomings of the male lead. In this ad, the actor plays a role which mistakenly thinks that Vergara (the female lead) is trying to flirt with him and in the ending he rushes to her, apparently hoping to date her. This, in some way, matches some themes of masculinity, that usually males are easily driven by sexual desire (thus the saying: Most men think with the wrong head). The slogan is quite ‘feminine’ itself, as it says Love Every Sip, which complies with the idea that women are more emotional. A contrasting example would be the famous Nike slogan Just do it which involves action. Also, another slogan of Diet Pepsi which is shown on the poster (shown in Figure 1 in page 3) is worth looking into. It says the new skinny can, which can be decoded in two ways: 1. It simply introduces the latest design of a thinner version of normal Pepsi can; 2. It actually implies that a woman (the new skinny) is capable of doing something (can). This slogan is interesting as in one way it lowers women’s status with an understatement “Women should be skinny” while it also empowers women by referring to their capability. If this series is to be remade, the target audience could include people who pursue a healthy diet, e.g. parents or teenagers who want to keep fit, not only women. An alternative storyline would perhaps be a family enjoying Diet Pepsi together, while the mother gives Diet Pepsi, instead of other beverages, to her children. Figure 1:
Diet Pepsi: Toast
Diet Pepsi: Come on
Sofia's Diet Pepsi Commercial on The Ellen DeGeneres Show