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Alcoholic Spirits and American Culture
Campbell's Soup - Homemade in a Can
Aunt Jemima Resurrected
Beers of Our Nation
Cereal : Everything a Body Wants, Nothing a Body Needs
Cereal Commercials and the Family
Marlboro Cigarettes and the Marlboro Man
Energy Drinks: Let Your Man Out!
Food and Fitness
Got Milk? Got American Culture
Kids and Food Advertising
Milk- Building Strong Americans
Milk, The ideal Supplement
Milwaukee's Best Light. Men Should Act Like Men.
Mother Knows Best (Cereal, Milk, and Motherhood)
Sprite and Pop Culture
Subway, Good So You Don't Always Have To Be
Miller Lite and man laws
Whitening Gum and Appearance
Pepsi Ads Over the Past 50 Years
Pepsi Cola and Celebrities
Pepsi - The American Drink
Wake up with Folgers
Nestle - Simplifying the Lives of Middle-Class American Women
Fast Food Athletes: Supersizing American Values With A Large Order of Fries
Pepsi - The American Drink
Eva Hu, Tamkia Rozema, Carla Schweickert-Stary
Pepsi—The American Drink
There is an inherent American Dream that every American seeks to achieve in their own time. This dream by and large encompasses the ideal that anyone can make it and become an equal regardless of class, race, religious beliefs or gender. This extraneous dream seems to change not with every new generation but over generations. Today this American Dream seems to encompass many different areas depending on the groups and their genders. These changes seem to happen over time and are not due to the mass media culture that berates us everyday, but the media seems to base their advertising ads on the present dreams. Pepsi has taken several ideals of the American dream and exploited them to personify America in its soda and convince people that they want to buy Pepsi because it is an icon of America and can help them achieve these desires of the American Dream, which employs powerful women, youth, and iconic figures in pop music.
As the American dream comprises the idea of equality through without considering gender, race, or class; the freedom of women is one that has gone through much dispute over the last century. Throughout time, women have been oppressed, always kept below men. While the men are able to leave the house to work, bond with other men, and to take care of all other businesses; the women's role is to be at home, making babies, cooking, and cleaning. The image of women under these conditions imposes the assumption that they are weak and helpless without men to rescue them. The 2004 Pepsi Gladiator commercial rebuts this oppression of women by featuring three dynamic women in the music industry. Unlike the Jell-O advertisements in Kathleen LeBesco's article, this commercial applauds women who are in control. LeBesco shows how Jell-O ads are aimed toward mothers and housewives, under the impression that the role of women is to stay in the kitchen to provide meals for the family (Madsen-Brooks 182). However, the Pepsi commercial opens with musical stars Britney Spears, Pink, and Beyonce as Gladiators. Gladiators were ordinarily enslaved captives forced into mortal battle with one another for the entertainment of the public, these women too, are caged in while the public, many of whom are men, watch over them, including the male emperor, who reigns over everyone. The turning point of this commercial is when, rather than the three women fighting each other, they come together, causing the crowd to cheer rowdily with simply two stomps on the ground and one loud clap. The prominent part of this commercial is when the emperor is overthrown by these warriors, while the mighty women gracefully pick up and indulge in a Pepsi. The slogan "Dare for More," imposes the concept that women too can dare to be sassy, sharp-minded people controlling the world, rather than enslaved in the kitchen. Pepsi becomes an icon, the oppressed women’s American Dream of equality between genders is used to promote this beverage.
Achieving the American Dream causes a sense of pride within the country. Where women in other countries may still be oppressed, women in America are able to flaunt their bodies and enjoy the freedom to do what they please. Women are able to work the same jobs as men, and women are able to vote just as men do. This pride is displayed within the Pepsi commercial, beginning with the all-American Queen song, "We Will Rock You." Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Pink stand prominently and flawlessly in the center of the Colosseum, knowing that they have overthrown the emperor and taken over the entire arena. Pepsi makes evident the values of control and authority in America, which gives us an impression of pride for our country as they use this to promote their beverage.
Another facet of this attainable “American dream,” that might not be thought of as falling under this heading of the underdog is the desire to never appear old but to stay young, especially for women. The underdog is the not only the ulgy woman, but any woman who thinks of herslef as ugly becuase of the way she is treated by other people. For some women, they are not ugly, but have a poor self image of themsleves, thus making them an underdog in their own minds. These woman are the ones who watch television for the lastest product to make them young looking and cool. This dream of the underdog is not only to look young, but also to be seen as young and hip. Fifty years ago, this was probably not a major component of the American Dream; there were most likely women who acted in a similar way to the women of today, but not the same volume of women as seen in today's culture. Examining how commercials present their products and whom they use to promote the products shows this new trend of wanting to stay young and hip. In the ad Pepsi showcased for the Superbowl in 2002, Britney Spears sings a catchy tune through a series of five vignettes all set in the subsequent generations, beginning with the 50’s. One of the first lines the voice over says, which is repeated by Britney several times is, “for those who think young say Pepsi please” (Pepsi ad). This perpetuates the dream, which now becomes a need to stay young in two different ways for different generations of people. For the present youngest generation it sets in their head thie idea that they can stay young and one way is to drink Pepsi. Because the ad features different generations of young adults only drinking Pepsi, it reiterates to the young adult population of today they are young and cool and to maintain being young, drink Pepsi. Lastly, the flow of the commercial through five different generations of young people reconnects with adults from these generations that they once were young and can be again by drinking Pepsi. Here is where the perpetuation of the American dream is played out for the underdog. By appealing to the older generation who already believes that it is not good to get old let alone look old, the marketing companies perpetuate this realm of the American Dream. In the piece about the origins of Texas BBQ, Robb Walsh quoted Moses Austin saying, ‘“You expropriate the cultural material of the people you subjugate and then repackage it as part of your own culture,”’ (Madsen-Brooks 175). This is in a way is what Pepsi or on a bigger scale the advertising companies have done. These companies study people, find out a niche or use a portion of the American Dream that connects those who feel like they are the underdog, and repackage the product as part of the company that shows and gives steps on how to no longer feel like an underdog. The ads say "you do x and y to be on top," and for Pepsi, by drinking Pepsi you are subsequently doing this x and y. These marketing companies do not set the vales or dreams of Americans, their ads simply shows how by doing wahtever the ad promotes the underdog can rise to the top if they chose to do the what the ads says will get them there.
Another portion of the “American Dream” is having a sense of pride for and about your country and displaying it. One prominent way to show your pride is to display the colors of our glorious nation – the spectacular red, white and blue. Pepsi has taken these colors and made them the colors associated with Peps, just as Coca-Cola uses red and white, and the golden arches with McDonalds. By using the exact colors of the American flag, Pepsi has positioned themselves along side with out nation in some small manner, for the people who want to display their American pride it communicates that Pepsi is American, and by supporting Pepsi you can support America. Around Fourth of July, there are people who decorate for their parties using Pepsi products, not to drink but simply as decorations. This is shows how using a certain color scheme or symbol can foster a sense of showing pride for some entity without directly stating it. That means that a consumer can buy Pepsi, which has the same colors as the American flag and which are associated with America, thus displaying they love and support for the country while not explicitly saying that. This is beneficially for Pepsi because it gets their product out into the hands of consumer more than if the company had chosen a different color scheme. The cycle is not setting what the American Dream is for people, but allows them to perpetuate showing their pride for the colors and for the nation, which is part of the American Dream.
Going back a bit in time to the 1980’s, Pepsi draws once again on another prominent pop music figure of the time, Michael Jackson, to market its product. In the commercial, Pepsi portrays the American values of music and youth to show that Pepsi is an American product. It embodies things that many Americans feel are part of the American Dream, such as the strength and vitality of youth that will grow into the leaders of the next generation. All the children portrayed in the commercial are bright, smiling, hip kids. “You’re a whole new generation,” Michael Jackson sings as they all fall into a perfectly choreographed dance. These children are the hope and the future of America. Even though they are children they still have thier own American Dream. The commercial focuses on a young boy hanging out with his friends; symbolic of American freedom. But of course, this picture of American freedom is not complete without the drink of choice: Pepsi. The boy is dancing to a Michael Jackson song; he wants to be like Jackson. The boy's mimicking of Jakson is eviedent of his American Dream: to become an iconic pop star. As he dances with his friends, tossing back a Pepsi, he bumps into Jackson and his eyes widen as he recognizes his idol. Connecting Pepsi and Jackson’s great poppy music, the boy’s day is made as he meets Jackson, the “Thrill of the day,” Jackson sings. Pop music is a symbol of what Americans value, so by using a widely known pop tune and the fame of Michael Jackson, Pepsi creates a commercial that enforces the American Dream of having fun and meeting someone famous, in the hopes that they may be famous in the “next generation” while bonding over a great tasting soft drink.
This “New Generation” is very different from that of Langston Hughes' in his “Lunch in a Jim Crow Car.” Hughes sentiment is very bitter, his poem tells of dreams crushed and suppressed because of the color of his skin. "Bite into the sandwich of your heart/...Then—like an atom bomb—it bursts apart” (Madsen-Brooks 179). Jim Crow laws imposed strict restrains upon all people that were not white, providing seperate facilities for "Colored People." About 60 years later, the nation has changed with the Civil Rights movement. The change is for the better; in this Michael Jackson commercial, there are boys and girls, both black and white, connecting regardless of color. Through music, and dancing which transcend the color barrier. The commercial makes one think that these children, back and white can enjoy a Pepsi side-by-side, embracing friendship and equality that Pepsi helps create. Equality is the main facet of the American Dream. Everyone dreams one day of “making it big,” or becoming famous, regardless of what their skin is. There resonates a strong hope and promise for the future, knowing that if one stays dedicated to thier dream, work hard and drink Pepsi, they can become whatever they wish and flourish in the New Generation.
Americans have an ideal of the American Dream that varies from person to person, gender to gender and culture to culture. For many, America is viewed as a place of equality and freedom. Pepsi reaches out to the underdogs, those oppressed because of their looks, oppressed women, and those oppressed by the color of their skin. Pepsi shows that as long as one works hard for what they want and dinks Pepsi they can achieve the American Dream. Pepsi has taken some of these ideals to show that by drinking Pepsi one can achieve their American Dream, whatever it may be to that person. For the woman that has no freedom, due to a repressive culture, Pepsi shows her that she can be like Pink, Beyonce and Brittney and show some skin and embrace her sexuality and take charge and become a powerful woman. For those who feel they are becoming too old, Pepsi tells them that if you drink Pepsi, you will stay young and attractive. For those feeling repressed due to their color of skin, by drinking Pepsi, they will be treated as an equal. Pepsi shows that
specific American Dream--whatever it may be--can come true though the magic of Pepsi. Pepsi does not change the American Dream, rather as the American Dream evolves throughout generations, Pepsi shows people how the specific American Dreams can be achieved by drinking Pepsi. People are constantly reminded of America’s presence within Pepsi just by looking at the red, white and blue packaging. Pepsi is
1. “There’s Always Room for Resistance: Jell-O, Gender, and Social Class,” Kathleen LeBesco; AMS 10 Introduction to American Studies, Madsen-Brooks.
2. “Texas Barbecue in Black and White” from
Cornbread Nation 2
, Robb Walsh; AMS 10 Introduction to American Studies, Madsen-Brooks.
3. “Lunch in a Jim Crow Car,” Langston Hughes; AMS 10 Introduction to American Studies, Madsen-Brooks.
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