Sunday, August 3, 2008

Coke's Nostalgic Superbowl Ad

Andrew Lewis
Monique Wellesley
Marcellus Howard

This ad uses nostalgia in many ways. First, the setting for this ad is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This parade is nostalgic to many of us who have attended the parade or started off their Thanksgiving morning by watching the parade on TV with their family, remembering the huge balloons traveling through the city during the parade. The ad uses tame symphony/orchestra music that reminds us of the holidays. The ad incorporates intertextuality to create nostalgia, as it starts with two of the large cartoon character balloons (Stewie from Family Guy and Underdog) fighting over a large Coca-Cola bottle balloon. Stewie (a modern cartoon character that is profane and violent) jostles back in forth with Underdog (an innocent cartoon character from the 60s), as both struggle to grab the Coke. In the end, a Charlie Brown balloon appears from behind a building and snags the Coke, leaving Stewie and Underdog defeated, floating over Central Park. Charlie Brown, a popular character from the Peanuts comic that started in the early 60s, is the ultimate nice guy cartoon character that is seemingly cursed with bad luck and fortune. Nice guys finish last and Charlie Brown never had it his way, until now.

We think Coca-Cola uses this intertextuality to create nostalgia in order to appeal mainly to baby boomers who grew up adoring Charlie Brown and Underdog, but also to others who became fond of these specific cartoons. These good old fashioned cartoon characters are known for their insecurities and striving to overcome obstacles. Many adults today grew up rooting for these decent, humble cartoon characters. Stewie, on the other hand, is a devilish character that uses violence and dreams of destroying his mother. When Charlie Brown (the character that always comes up short) wins the Coke, older generations may jump with joy as they see Charlie finally jump the hurdle after all these years. Still, this ad may also appeal to younger fans of Family Guy, simply because Stewie is in the commercial.

This ad suggests that Coke can help you overcome any obstacle, as the Coca-Cola bottle prompted Charlie Brown to finally win the race. The ad engages consumers familiar with the cartoons, leading to them associating Coke with the charm of the cartoons they cherished as a child. It suggests that Coke is affiliated with the more innocent and moral-driven characteristics of the 60s cartoon characters, rather than today's harsh cartoons characters. Reflecting that Coke is synonymous with the good old days that the baby boomers relished. Also, If consumers feel a bit insecure or left out (much like Charlie Brown and Underdog), reaching for a Coke will wash away your blues.


Phil Mooney said...

Thanks for writing about our Super Bowl ad, called "It's Mine." I'm the archivist for The Coca-Cola Company and wrote about this commercial on my blog, The ad was repeatedly voted as one of the best of the Super Bowl, and I loved it for some of the reasons you've mentioned -- the lovable loser Charlie Brown finally wins. I also liked the contrast between the use of the new character Stewie and the characters that had been around for decades. I talk about our advertising, role in pop culture and heritage on my blog. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think. -- Phil Mooney

mjg504 said...

This ad is really funny how it takes a new cartoon character and has him competing against old cartoon characters for a coca-cola. Then at the end it takes you back to the days when everyone used to watch charlie brown