Monday, June 27, 2011

Coke & Pepsi and the Egyptian Revolution (+, yes, kufiyaspotting)

Like all companies trying to make money in the new Egypt after Mubarak, Coke & Pepsi are trying to ride the revolution. (Thanks to Robin for calling them to my attention.)

Check out this ad from Coca-Cola, with the theme, "Make Tomorrow Better." We see the middle class youth of Egypt (the presumed revolutionary subjects) ushering in a new dawn. Note that the focus is entirely on Cairo's downtown, which has both been a site that the upwardly mobile in neo-liberal Egypt have been fleeing for the upscale satellite suburbs, and which is also the focus of plans for gentrification. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, note the penultimate shot, which shows Tahrir Square, with a crowd (meant, of course, to evoke a demonstration, right before the last shot of a young person drinking a bottle of Coke.

Then check out this Pepsi advert. Again, the middle class youth of Egypt are the subject. They are shown to be adding color (literally) and life to Cairo's downtown (which has, in fact, been renovated in recent years). They possess the trappings of advanced modernity (flat screen televisions, laptops) and also evoke the youth of the revolution. This young woman carries the iconic cellphone (the "twitter revolution") and, yes, yes, you guessed it, she wears the requisite iconic accessory of the revolution, the kufiya.

And towards the end of the video, youth begin to gather at a street intersection in what looks like it could be a demonstration, and from a balcony looking over the intersection, a young man gives an enthusiastic revolutionary salute, with a can of Pepsi in his hand.

The overall theme is "express yourself." Among the lyrics of the song are the lines, "you are the new, you are the unique," and "tomorrow is waiting for you." And here's the vid:

Don't be too surprised, or dismayed. Both Coke and Pepsi attempted to ride the waves of the sixties counterculture and oppositional movements in the US.

Here's a "psychedelic" ad from Pepsi, from 1969.

And one from Coke, featuring Lady Soul Aretha Franklin, from 1968, when she had only recently crossed over, as a sign of Black Pride.

Big capital will, of course, inevitably, try to profit from the revolutionary fever...

Update (one hour later): Just a bit after I posted the above, I came across an article from Al-Masry Al-Youm on the same subject (although less critical), entitled "Soft-drink giants ride wave of post-uprising optimism." “It’s about empowering youth to come up with ideas and do something about them,” said Karim Khouri, managing director at Impact BBDO, the agency that designed ads for Pepsi.


Richard S. said...

Yep, Coke and Pepsi are everywhere. Being a big fan of South Asian music (and films and poetry), I stumbled upon excellent clips from Pakistan's "Coke Studios" show. This was created by Coca Cola, and I presume they sponsor it. It struck me as rather ironic to see a clip of Tina Sani singing something by the revolutionary socialist poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz with "Coke" showing in the upper left corner. It's an excellent performance, though, and since the lyrics are from Faiz, the message is less questionable than what we see in those Egyptian ads. :)

Term papers said...

Good Information About
"Coke & Pepsi and the Egyptian Revolution (+, yes, kufiyaspotting)"