Monday, September 14, 2009

The Democratic Taste of Pepsi

It is no surprise that images as logos are extremely important in the world of advertising. A tiypical consumer spends his or her day surrounded by all kinds of images that connotate different messages. Because our society is dripping in these advertisements, it has become second nature for us to tune these familiar images out. The average person does not need text to accompany a common logo in order to know what a popular product is.

In 2008, the Pepsi logo underwent a makeover. The corporation's controversial decision to tilt and warp Pepsi's original logo left many believing that the decision was purposefully made in order to mirror the campaign logo of Barack Obama.

To the trained political junkie's eye, the similarities are striking. Pepsi's advertisers claim that their new logo isn't explicity based on Obama's campaign logo. However, the corporation was quick to jump on the political bandwagon and wasted no time in drawing the similarities themselves using text:

According to Sturken and Cartwright, many advertisements use text "to rein in and limit the meaning of the image in some way". These ads show how text can be tused to shape the meaning of an image. The authors also note that "our interpretation of images often depends on the viewers' cultural knowledge". Cultural context is still needed in making the connection between the image and Barack Obama's presidential campaign because the text does not explicitly say "Barack Obama". Instead, it uses words and phrases commonly associated with his campaign. The text then serves only as a guide - a "culturally challenged" person would be unable to understand the extent of the message in the advertisements. On the flip side, if Obama hadn't even run for President, the connotation of the logo would be very different.

Here's a link to an article that goes in-depth about the Pepsi/Obama logo controversy.


  1. This is what I think of when I see the Pepsi Ads:

    But on a serious note, I don't have much to say but that Pepsi did something right!

  2. I'm not going to comment on political aspect of this situation...
    however.... Pepsi's idea as the endorser of a specific candidate... was brilliant. Millions of people in America are daily surrounded, and hence influenced by logos such as these.
    Bravo to Pepsi for their great marketing and brilliant endorsement.

  3. Interesting to note that Pepsi also devised the first all-black sales force and was the first major corporation to appeal directly to the black consumer base.

  4. I think this recognizable logo had a great deal to do with all the success Obama received in campaigning because it was such a recognizable and relatable logo.