Thesis: Coca Cola Australia Ads Soft Drink Branding

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Coca Cola Australia Ads

Soft drink branding began very early in the world of the globalized markets and in fact marks one of the most fundamental ways in which the world sees the source, nation, in this case the U.S. Export of Coca Cola to Australia began with a bottling plant opening in the nation in 1938 and it has been a dominant global brand every since. (Olson 1996) Coca Cola has been the number one contender in the marketing mix of the region for a very long time and in many ways is responsible for the first modern source and cultural marketing campaigns in the world.

The franchise systems of the beverage market allow individual bottlers exclusive rights of sales and production in each region and Australia is no exception. Additionally, the franchise system effects marketing in that some ads are international, and if deemed acceptable to Australia they are run there, but the subsidiary brands specific to Australia also create their own advertising and marketing that is tailored to the Australian market and consumer. (Pepsico 2006) The Coca Cola company was one of the first players in the market to tailor its advertising to specific cultures and seek out ads that reflected the cultural identity of the region to better sell to consumers there and to speak in a visual and literal language they would understand and relate to. Over the years Coca Coal has produced culture specific and artful ads pulling on the cultural ties of the nation both real and perceived. Yet, it is also clear that Coca Cola has chosen a very specific target audience as this target audience is the one that repeatedly proves to be the most dominant in sales. In general and historically, the ads have run along the pretext of most soft drink brands, seeking the shared demographic of 19- to 25-year-old males with interests in the beach, outdoor activities and pretty women. In an example that clearly defines the soft drink market Pepsico's (2006) marketing brand target characteristics are quoted as follows and reflect almost exactly the marketing target of all soft drink brands in Australia, but specifically the Coca Cola product lines:

PEPSI 16-24 years Bullseye: Male. 19 years Pepsi is an outgoing 19-year-old whose social life and leisure activities revolve around their peer group. A leader not a follower recognised for their attitude, group endorsed individually and being on the leading edge. This person is an individual, but not to the extent of been seen as anti-social. They challenge the convention because they have a spirited and progressive attitude PEPSI LIGHT Female 25-39 years Female. 25 years Pepsi Light is a 25-year-old female. She actively pursues a healthy lifestyle with a focus on eating and drinking well. She wants a fun, exciting lifestyle. Pepsi Light accompanies this lifestyle PEPSI MAX Male 25-35 years Male: 29 years Pepsi Max is an active 29-year-old male. He is reluctant to give up the things he loves in life, or to fully embrace diet, on the grounds of taste and image compromise. He is still young at heart and needs to have fun to get that release from his day-to-day monotony but he is quite relaxed about (and in control of) how he deals with this.

Coca Cola's marketing runs concurrent with Pepsi with only the brand names of the soft drinks changing to Coca Cola, Coke Zero and several corresponding high hitting power drinks. In general the demographic of these two brands is nearly exact as they specifically compete for the same demographic and historically they have responded to advertising needs in the same manner. Coca Cola relies on enduring cultural expressions such as the history of the nation and the beach and outdoor scenes yet it has also begun to emphasize the highly urbanized nature of the demographic and sought out high paid, high profile spokespeople from the sports and entertainment industries to act in ads for their products. So, examples from the 1970s 80s and 90s featuring Coca Cola give the viewer the impression that product marketers had the initial goal of tailoring ads to cultural trends from the beginning, yet it is also clear that the company did not go out of its way to develop an ad base that reflects the multiculturalism of the nation but instead targeted a very specific audience, white mostly middle class and youthful individuals with at least some expendable income and an interest in the beach and party culture of the nation. This 1977 Coca Cola ad offers the viewer clips and snippets reflecting the white culture of Australia, couples meeting and enjoying the urban party life of Australia and the outdoors and beach culture of Australia:

(Youtube user angusjmp 2006)

The 1977 ad gives the viewer the impression that even if you are not white, middle to upper class and able and willing to enjoy the leisure life of Australia seeking to do so is an aspect of culture. The ad, juxtaposes and threads couples through dancing in a late night urban club and swimming at some rural beach. The work stresses the love connection, professing that sex and direct interpersonal communication are the core of human existence. There is a sense that everyone should at least want to be a part of this lifestyle and that drinking coca cola will help one do that.

This 1988 example again offers the viewer a stereotyped representation of the nation of Australia, still decidedly white in nature a scantily clad couple lounge around in a bush cabin that is surrounded by one of Australia's famous restorative bush fires. The heat is all consuming and from every view inside the house all one can see is fire and sweaty flesh. The man jumps in a cool bath but nothing will take the edge off the heat, until the couple and a new companion open cokes and move out to the porch, where the view reflects back on the house which is only surrounded by a few feet of fire and is now clear from the front. The trio then sip cokes and enjoys the cool night air:

(Youtube user angusjmp 2006)

While this 1990 commercial for Coca Cola can boast a slightly more multicultural feel the players in the ad are still decidedly white, with no exception and though the culture is expressed it is that of the middle to upper class white culture. The scenes shown are clips from modern and then older video recordings as well as new commercials, some of which are independent as commercials that have recently run on television:

(WookieCookie 2006)

"Coca Cola ad from 1990 transferred off Beta tape. I remember this ad when I was 9 years old and it was aired around December 1990 and January 1991, which is the peak summer period in Australia. The ad features various old films from the 60s to the 80s and a mix of 60s surfy wave rock music particularly Beach Boys "I Get Around" and using the jingle "Coca Cola can't beat the real thing." (typicalaussiebloke 2006) This ad is probably the most reflective of all the coca cola ads with regard to the representation of culture, as the ad features film clips from many regional cultural events, fairs, dances and even tourist scenes and over time, but again the target audience is white middle to upper class with expendable income and leisure time.

The next ad again plays off the core market target of the company. Again in 1991, Coca Cola came out with an ad that demonstrates young attractive white Aussie men skysurfing to a Coca Cola cooler outside of a rural bushman store that juxtaposes the modern urban bloke with the rural Australian myth, i.e. that most Australians live in the bush, where as in reality Australia is one of the most urbanized cultures in the world. The ad, responding to culture demonstrates the white colonial settlement that does exist in the bush, and shows very little if any reflection of indigenous members of the Australian culture. It does however show the countryside, which is more than a lot of ads do.

(angusjmp2006)

Coca Cola also focused early on high profile celeb endorsements:

(Conniptions886 2009)

This 1960s ad features the famed Executives, a Beatles like rock band of Aussie fame get into the spirit of Coca Cola by singing and dancing in this ad and even unexpectedly frolicking in the surf to do so. These rather conservative suit wearing celebs are shown playing in the surf to promote the beach culture of the nation. Yet, again this ad and most others speak to the white middle to upper class youth demographic.

The next ad, from the 1980s is a recurrence of the 1960s celeb ad but it features more modern celebrities and more modern scenes, and decidedly les clothing:

(Conniptions886 2009)

This 1980s commercial features some more current celebs and music from the Aussie rock band Dragon playing in the background while beautiful young white… [END OF PREVIEW]

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