Garfield's AdReview: Pepsi finally acknowledges real point of cola in new ads

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We have said this before, and we'll say this again: There is no joy of Pepsi.

Nor, despite hundreds of millions of dollars worth of protests to the contrary, was there ever such thing as the joy of cola. Babies and weddings bring joy. Reunions and miraculous recoveries bring joy. Sex with intimacy, or really outstanding sex without intimacy, brings joy. Cola brings cavities, basically.

On the other hand, caramel-colored soft drinks surely confer some benefits. Thirst-quenching is one of them. Refreshing? That, too. Tasty? Sure. A nice little pick-me-up? Absolutely.

And, of course, the stuff's great with food. The crappier the eats, the greater the cola tastes. Burgers. Hot dogs. Pizza. What else would you wash them down with ... Pinot Grigio?

Thus one of the Great Mysteries of the Modern World: Why, in the face of such compelling reasons to drink Coke and Pepsi, have Coke and Pepsi spent billions of dollars over 20 years showing impossibly attractive young people having lifestyle moments with sugar water?

So, as long as we're in a thanks-giving frame of mind, let's grab a cold turkey sandwich and a can of Pepsi and thank BBDO Worldwide, New York, for introducing some visceral sensation to the cola wars. The latest meaningless theme is "It's the cola," but the underlying advertising finally provides a reason for buying the swill.

It's a fine complement to tortilla chips and chicken thighs and frankfurters.

There are three new spots. One, both idiotic and funny, shows comedian Dave Chappelle being attacked by his date's robotic vacuum cleaner after it sucks up a fallen Dorito and then goes for Chappelle's can of Pepsi. The thirsty machine goes Paris Hilton on him, consuming his trousers. Why "Your vacuum cleaner ate my pants" is funny we can't explain, but it is.

Another spot is a dead-on parody of NFL Films, with a John Facenda-like narrator waxing poetic about pre-game tailgating, complete with the super-slo-mo shot of a Pepsi bottle spiraling through the air. This is not a novel gag, but it's perfectly executed.

The best of the lot, however, is about a love affair. It opens with a charmingly plain young woman, standing in front of a wiener shop, handing out fliers costumed as a hot dog. It's thankless work, because nobody much wants the fliers. In the background, Blind Melon's "No Rain" poignantly underscores her emptiness. She is a lonesome hot dog, indeed.

But then, as she trudges down the sidewalk, she spies a young man across the street dressed as a can of Pepsi. Their glances meet. The world disappears around them as they join hands and walk with warm satisfaction (albeit not quite joy) into their shared future. "Hot dogs love Pepsi," the narrator says. "Pepsi loves hot dogs. It's the cola."

The 60-second spot is 20 seconds too long, but so what? For once it says something about the cola experience.

The only remaining question is why this advertiser has once again opted for a category-generic slogan. If "it" is the cola, wouldn't the "it" that comes to mind be the one that for years said "It's the Real Thing" and "Coke is It?" Yes.

Good ads. Good strategy. But there is no joy in Sloganville, where mighty Pepsi has struck out.


BBDO Worldwide, New York

Ad Review Rating: 3 stars

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