If You Love The Bubbles, Set Them Free

Now, I am not a huge soda drinker.  I do have the occasional Sprite when I’m out for dinner, or Coke when I’m feeling reminiscent of my time abroad in Latin America, but I really don’t drink it all that often.  Maybe it’s because I’m a college student on a pretty strict budget and don’t have room for both Nutella and Pepsi in my diet.  But one thing I did grow up with, and have become more of an active drinker of now that I am out on my own, is sparkling water.

Within the past two years or so make your own carbonated drink machines became a more desired product.  A recent commercial by SodaStream (the leading company in make-your-own-soda) brings into question the competitiveness of SodaStream verses Pepsi and Coke, the worlds leading soda companies.  The commercial below was not shown during the SuperBowl as CBS rejected it.  With Coke and Pepsi being two of the biggest advertisers during the game, perhaps CBS didn’t want to risk their support.  SodaStream now has posted on their website “watch the SodaStream commercial they wouldn’t let you see during the big game”.

The commercial starts with two delivery trucks pulling up in front of a grocery store, one for Pepsi and one for Coke.  The deliverymen load up their carts and race to get to the door first, but before they have the chance their bottles explode and with a cut to a handsome man in a dark room, as he pushes down on SodaStream a voice intones, “with SodaStream, we could’ve saved five hundred million bottles on game day alone”.

SodaStream seems to have a lot going for them.  They are targeting sustainability in their use of reusable containers, saving money by making your own soda at home, and in a day in age where many people are questioning the health factors related to sugar sweetened beverages carbonated water looks pretty good.  You can make your own soda with this machine with added sweetened packages, but according to one YouTube video I watched they contain half the amount of sugar per serving than a normal liter of Coke.  Many people are also buying the SodaStream just for carbonating water.

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It is a pretty smart deal for SodaStream.  The consumer makes an initial investment on the machine (about $80), and then has to refill the proprietary air tanks and if you’re making soda the SodaMixes, both of which you can buy at Target and Crate & Barrel.  I don’t know if it’s totally worth the money, but I do think that they are going to give Coke and Pepsi a run for their money.

With both of these two companies running on persuasive advertising, not necessarily new inventive products, and expensive costs SodaStream might be the semi- affordable switch consumers are willing to try.  Being able to make your own soda at home takes away some of the mystery soda implies, and if you can make it at home why buy it ever again?

NP 4/30

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Police Run On Dunkin’

During the Boston Marathon bombers manhunt last week, the only business that was allowed to stay open was Dunkin Donuts.  I guess what they say is true; police really do love coffee and donuts.

However during this time of tragedy and uncertainty for New England’s core city, Dunkin became a safe haven for many commuters and travelers who became stranded when the T shut down early Friday morning.  They served anyone who came in “whether they were looking for a cup of Joe or a place to charge a phone”.  It was at the direction of authorities that “select Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of needs of law enforcement and first responders”.

An open Dunkin’ Donuts shop at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Boston Street in Dorchester offered a welcome glow during the lock-down. Boston Globe

An open Dunkin’ Donuts shop at the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Boston Street in Dorchester offered a welcome glow during the lock-down. Boston Globe

A definite stereotype of cops loving coffee and donuts, but Dunkin’ was there when the first responders really needed it.  Dunkin’ Donuts has done a great job of maintaining their reputation as an American staple with their slogan, as of 2006 being “America Runs On Dunkin”.  Traditionally cops have been associated with donuts and coffee as in many areas, the donut shop is the only pace that is open 24 hours a day, and donuts give a quick burst of energy with their small pack of sugar and carbohydrates.

This stereotype has continually been instilled in minds as true throughout pop culture.  Chief Wiggum from The Simpson’s is a prime example, even eating donuts off of his own gun.

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However, truly recognizable as a New England business (I know that I’ve crossed into New England boundaries when Dunkin’ beats out Starbucks on the highways pit stop signs), Dunkin’ Donuts continues to connect with their area of origin.  Founded in 1950 in Quincy Massachusetts and now based in Canton, MA Dunkin’ uses local sports teams to promote their products.  At the start of the 2012 baseball season, Dunkin’ and the Red Socks teamed up to start the season off right.  A “Red Socks Breakfast Runs on Dunkin” stared Jacoby Ellsbury, center fielder, and team manager Bobby Valentine.  The two answered questions and drank iced coffee together in front of a group of loving fans.

Dunkin’ is definitely doing something right.  Cops love them and Dunkin’ knows when to send out support.  And who says coffee and donuts can’t go a long way!

NP 4/23

Open Happiness

Coca Cola wants to make the world a little happier.  Their advertising campaign “open happiness” has been around for some time now, but it was not until recently did I become aware of their unique and seemingly very popular guerrilla marketing technique, the happiness machine.

A creative twist on the standard vending machine, Coke began their mission to “spread happiness” at St. John’s University in New York.  It not only dispensed free bottles of Coca Cola, it gave out flowers, pizza, and a six foot long sub generating one million views in the first week and more than five million views on YouTube today!

Want to get an idea of what this magical vending machine did to a seemingly normal day at St. Johns?  Watch the video below…

After St. Johns they continued to bring this magical machine to many other college campus’s across the U.S. as well as around the world stopping in Singapore, India, Buenos Aires, Indonesia, and London – just to name a few!

I can’t help but be pretty impressed by Coke’s ingenuity in this project, and am personally drawn to their advertisements supporting their creative machine.  However I do not think that they have totally sold the rest of my age group, who some have labeled “the millennial’s”.

Public Relations Society of America states that millennial’s ages 23-36 “place high value on social responsibility, sustainability, and local, organic, grass-fed and hormone-free dishes” and tend to go for “higher-quality products and lots of choices”.

With this definition, Coke may not be the millennial’s number one beverage choice.  Coke has a reputation of pushing heavy duty sugary drinks and there has been a lot of discussion about how sustainable they really are (lots of plastic within their bottles…).

On the other hand, millennial’s areimage.axd very Internet and social media savvy.  Having grown up with the Internet we like our information to be fast freely flowing, and Coke has done a good job keeping up to speed with innovative technological promotions, such as their new idea to have two users see each other and touch hands virtually through one of their special vending machines.  I consider myself to be a millennial and one thing I value is being a citizen of the world. The idea of connecting people across the globe is pretty cool (and current), and relates to my personal values.

I have to say, I am normally very opposed to Coca Cola’s schemes, but the happiness machine did work for me.  I caught myself smiling while watching videos of people accepting their free gifts… and did kind of wish they had come to my college campus as well!

WP 4/19

Jeff Gordan Test Driving It To The Max, Or Is He?

As an avid YouTube watcher I try to stay up to speed on all of the hilarious new videos gone viral.  This week I was surprised to see NASCAR driver Jeff Gordan promoting Pepsi Max in disguise running a prank on an unsuspecting car salesman, taking him for the ride of his life.  Gordan gets into a 2009 Chevy Camaro with a “can cam” (aka a camera disguised as a Pepsi can), and zooms off educing panic on the car salesman.  After taking the car for a few ridiculously fast spins, they return to the lot and the salesman storms off threatening to call the cops, but not before Gordan reveals the truth about who he really is.

A hilarious video, yet to my surprise it just came out that it’s not a true prank!  Gordan apparently did not drive the car, and the salesman was an actor.  That may be because it was a commercial.

Though it was well disguised as another prank video (hello punk’d), the video is indeed an advertisement for Pepsi Max.

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Many are blowing the roof off of the video with detective like images and phone calls to the supposed salesman.  Jalopnik goes on a detailed look into the “truth” behind the video.  It has been discovered that the producers behind it all come from Gifted Youth, a division of Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die Company.  The company even wrote last spring in the New York Times that they “will create videos that are purely advertising, which marketers could run online, on television or in movie theaters. Those videos are more likely to be in the standard commercial lengths of 30 to 60 seconds”.  Though some may see this as deception, I can’t help but think of one thing.  Oh yea, all press is good press.

No matter if it is a true prank or not (or a true commercial or not), Pepsi Max get’s their product across in a creative and pretty hilarious way.  And as of today the video has been viewed over 30 million times!  If this isn’t good advertising, I don’t know what is!

NP 4/16

I Don’t Think You’re Ready For This Jelly

Beyonce is back! In a new commercial for Pepsi Beyonce gives us a preview of her new song “Grown Woman” while revisiting some of her previous music video persona’s through the mirrors of her dance studio.

As much as I obsess over Beyonce (yes I do have a Crazy In Love poster in my room and am having a Beyonce themed birthday party) having her be the spokesperson for Pepsi (after signing a $50 million dollar deal) makes me a little upset!  As a strong, powerful woman, and the role model to many girls, Beyonce has the power to persuade many people across the globe.  And for some time she was using her power for good as a spokesperson for the first lady’s health campaign “Let’s Move”.

In this music video, which has been shown in elementary and middle schools across the country, Beyonce revamps her classic “Get Me Bodied” and leads a cafeteria of students in a heart-pumping workout.  She looks great, and embodies a healthy and athletic persona, which may be close to the true Beyonce!  She even takes a bite out of an apple at the end of the scene, obviously making apples the desire of every little Beyonce fan in the world (including me).

However in this new commercial, after she breaks it down in typical Queen Bey form, she takes a long sip of REGULAR (not even diet!) Pepsi.  I’m sure that Beyonce drank a ton of soda after having a baby and still managing to look like this….

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According to a press release from PepsiCo the new commercial will be appear in more than 70 countries worldwide and be scene by over 1 billion people worldwide.  With such a massive global impact I had hoped Beyonce would not sell out and would think of how her promotional activities directly influence her fans.  The Harvard School of Public Health has stated “a typical 20-ounce soda contains 15-18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories” and “people who consume sugary drinks regularly – 1 to 2 cans a day or more- have a 26% change of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks”.

I am deeply disappointed in Queen Bey, and hope that the millions of young people who love her so are aware of the dangers of the consumption of sugary drinks.  What do you think, did Beyonce sell out?

NP 4/9

Canada Dry – Soda From The Earth?

Who knew that soda grows in the ground?  I sure didn’t.   But in a recent Canada Dry advertisement showcasing their signature Ginger Ale, a little girl running a farm stand straight up pulls a bottle ginger ale out of the earth!  Seeing that her farm stand is getting popular she takes to bigger measures and ends up pulling an entire truck filled with bottled ginger ale out as well and feeds her happy customers with soil grown soda.

Now though this advertisement does enhance their slogan of “Real Ginger, Real Taste” it is quite misleading when it comes to how much ginger really is included in their soft drink.

Real ginger does grow under ground like carrots, and grows a nice long stalk and can produce very pretty red flowers.  Though traditionally ginger drinks contain a lot of ginger, Canada Dry’s version doesn’t even list ginger on the ingredient panel.

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When I looked into this I found some of Canada Dry’s frequently asked questions.

Q:  Why is Made from Real Ginger” stated on Canada Dry Ginger Ale packages?

A:  Consumers told us that they wanted a carbonated soft drink made with natural ingredients, like real ginger while still delivering Canada Dry’s great ginger ale taste. Canada Dry has always been made with high quality, natural flavors— we are highlighting what consumers want to know.

“Consumers told us”.  By directing the question onto the consumer Canada Dry is reframing the blame of how much real ginger (cough none cough) is in their product.

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Q: Why isn’t real ginger listed on the ingredient panel?

A: Real ginger is part of the natural flavors in the ingredient list.  Flavors are grouped together in the ingredient line under the umbrella of “Natural Flavors” to protect Canada Dry’s proprietary formula.

How interesting.  You’d think that a company that shows their soda coming straight out of the earth would have ginger featured on their ingredient labeling!  Another question…

Q: How much real ginger is in Canada Dry Ginger Ale?

A: That information is part of our proprietary formula and is not divulged.

If Canada Dry refuses to tell their consumers how much real ginger is in their product, who is actually going to believe that there is ANY ginger going in?

NP 3/26

The Perfect Cocktail

Ah, How I Met Your Mother.  Nine seasons strong and we still haven’t met the elusive mother… and yet I still watch every Monday night.  What can I say, I’m hooked!   One of todays most popular sitcoms, the five friends are fairly social, and (like some of our other “friends”) have a meeting spot where they hang out over beverages.  For these guys it’s Maclaren’s Pub.

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Like a lot of young professionals the group of friends is frequently seen getting a beer or two together socializing and typically solving their current dating dilemmas.  However, in this one episode Lily and Robin try to find “the perfect cocktail” to get Barney and Marshall the right kind of drunk to to reconcile after having a bad fight.

As the clip explains, each cocktail has a different effect on every member of the gang (for example red wine = self pity for Barney) so finding the perfect one to solve this situation seems difficult.

However, as I was watching this episode I started to think, is this an appropriate way to be portraying the consumption of alcohol on a show has many viewers below the legal drinking age?  Yes, drinking can be fine in moderation, and some of the time the characters on the show do portray responsible drinking.  But in this episode Lily and Robin aim to get the guys drunk so that they can resolve a problem between them.  But, does heavy drinking typically solve problems or create them?

One of the six ways that Bandura’s Social Learning Theory explains how we learn to choose one option over another is modeling.  Bandura’s “major premise is that we can learn by observing others” and he was particularly concerned with the amount of knowledge learned through modeled behaviors conducted through film and television.

How I Met Your Mother is very entertaining (I myself do own a print copy of “The Bro Code” – thanks to legendary best friend) but the portrayal of the effects of alcohol in this clip do not show the negative (hello hangover!) and potentially deadly effects of binge drinking.  The CDC defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above”.  If the guys are getting drunk, they are probably ending up with a higher BAC than .08, and this episode does nothing to address how this could impact their viewers.

Where do you draw the line… is How I Met Your Mother just trying to be funny, or is their characters behavior impacting the decisions of their viewers who themselves may now be trying to find the perfect cocktail?

WP 3/22