Interpersonal and Ideological Ties in Selected Pepsi Advertisements: A Textual Analysis
Dr. Ibrahim Srour (*)
* (PhD) Associate Professor Lebanese University Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences Department of English Language and Literature (First Branch).
Pepsi advertisements include a specific language use that embeds ideological notions which are linked to interpersonal ties such as social institutions and social practices. As such, the Pepsi advertisements have encouraged the researcher to unfold and analyze its significant traits. The purpose is to expose specific ideological underpinnings that reside in the selected Pepsi advertisements, which are used in order to persuade the consumers to buy such a product on regular, if not on daily basis. The data of analysis is composed of 34 Pepsi advertisements, but a sample will be provided as an example for the analysis. The eclectic sample includes 11 Pepsi advertisements which are selected and arranged according to years 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2020. The advertisements target specific audience of particular status, age, and interest. Thus, in order to analyze the selected Pepsi advertisements, the researcher will utilize Fairclough’s (2010) notion of Textual Analysis from his framework of critical discourse analysis. This paper will also employ Cook’s (2001) eight classifications of the Context of Advertisements. Such an interdisciplinary approach enables the researcher to conduct an analysis of the selected Pepsi advertisements as comprehensively as possible. Through this analysis, the researcher hopes that the present paper would be a contribution to the field of analyzing advertisements in general, and the beverage advertisements in particular.
Key terms: Pepsi, Language, Advertising, Linguistic Features, Ideology, Persuasion, Interpersonal Ties
Since language is a prime means of communication, one of the functions of language is association. People use language to associate and interact with their surroundings as well as to cooperate with each other. Language, accordingly, becomes expressive of the basic intrinsic notions in people such as their feelings, thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Thus, language is a medium of interaction and creativity. One of the means of creativity is through propaganda or advertising. By using language in advertising, people can promote a particular product through highlighting its significant aspects. Such a ‘highlight’ is based on the notion of persuasion. Consequently, the advertiser persuades the costumer or consumer into buying a designated product. So, the language used by advertisements is considered as advertising discourse, which has a specific function that is directed to a target audience.
Advertising can be expressed either in terms of writing or speaking. Also, it can either be a text or in terms of using audiovisual means such as pictures and music in a broadcasted advertising. Moreover, since advertising is a social practice, it follows that advertisements include semiotic notions in its discourse in order to convey the message to the audience. Fairclough (2010), considers discourse as a spoken or written language use and “extend(s) it to include semiotic practice in other semiotic modalities such as photography and non-verbal communication” (p.92). Furthermore, language in his view is a facet of social practice and “a mode of action” (p.92) which is situated according to society, but at the same time it shapes society. Hence, language and society are interchangeable in a two way street.
According to Gao and Zeng (2021), the text which is produced by an author, a writer, or a speaker, “may serve discursive and social purposes” (p. 3). However, this is not the case with the audience. Although those who produce the written or spoken utterance “serve as the initiator(s) of the discursive and social practice(s)” (p. 3), the audience including the listener or reader “accept(s) or reject(s) the practices” (p. 3). As such, the audience does not initiate the social practice or action, but is a mere receptor of what is being transmitted.
Mooney and Evans (2015) posit that “discourse in advertising in transnational contexts demonstrates the ideology of English language” (p. 218). In addition, Androutsopoulos (2013) (qtd. in Mooney and Evans, 2015) views that language use in advertising is a decisive devise which “establishes, symbolically…frames of interpretation” (p. 234) of content. As such, using language in advertising and in particular “in commercial texts, points the audience to a particular way of understanding a text” (p. 218).
Hence, advertising is the social commercial practice of attracting the attention of the public into consuming a specific product or buying a particular service.
Goddard (2002) discusses the nature of advertisements and believes that:
“…their effects are longstanding and cumulative [where] they leave traces of themselves behind, which combine to form a body of messages about the culture that produced them. These messages can then function both to reflect and to construct cultural values.” (p.4)
Moreover, the primary aim of advertisements is to affect the consumers in one way or another. Advertisements accomplish this by influencing its consumers via selected persuasive techniques. According to Cook (2001), “ads use fictions, word play, compressed story-telling, stylized acting, photography, cartoons, puns and rhythms in ways which are often memorable, enjoyable and amusing”. (p.3)
Fairclough (1992 b) believes that the linguistic features of a text stand as a prime means of ideological representations and are important tools for studying embedded textual ideologies (p. 28). Furthermore, since advertising heavily relies on commercialization, then an important premise to consider is marketization. According to Fairclough (2010), the “marketization of discursive practices” (p. 101) depends on “the restructuring of the order of discourse” (p. 101). Thus, the advertising institutions operate within the discursive practice of the advertisement itself. In addition, advertisements are “not just a simulation” (p. 101), but an actual representation of a specific worldview. Consequently, advertisements are promotional of a designated worldview and a specific socio-cultural practice. For this reason, Fairclough (2010) classifies advertisements under what is called “promotional genres” (p. 102).
For advertisements to be persuasive in convincing the consumer to use what is being advertised, there must be specific features which are present in the advertisement. Fairclough (2010), posits that:
“an obvious promotional element is the presence of features of commodity advertising genre, [which is] realised textually…in personalization of the reader (you) and the institution (we), …the conversational genre,…the genre of prestige, …self-promotional claims,…and the logo”. (p. 102)
Hence, an analyst can achieve a realization of the communicated interpersonal meaning by analyzing such elements in a text, in addition to other linguistic features.
This literature review presents what has been written in the field of analyzing advertisements in general, and the advertising of beverage products in particular. Many researchers tackled advertising from various perspectives. Some researchers conduct a discourse analysis, others analyze the persuasive and the manipulative functions lexical metaphors, whereas other researchers conduct a multimodal discourse analysis which focuses on visual grammar. Also, some researchers analyze the cultural as well as the message strategies of advertisements.
Sahakyan (2020), analyzes the persuasive and the manipulative power of multimodal metaphors in the discourse of advertising. She analyzes advertisements with respect to the lexicalization of metaphors. The purpose is to pinpoint the thin line residing between persuasion and manipulation. Also, the aim is to reveal whether the use of metaphors embeds a form of manipulation. Moreover, the study examines the manipulative and the persuasive power of lexical metaphors. Furthermore, the study draws a link between multimodality and the potential manipulative force of advertising discourse. To achieve such goals, Sahakyan bases her analysis on a theory of Semiotics and Pragmatics.
Handoko (2019), conducts a discourse analysis of food and beverage TV advertising from a structural and functional standpoint. The focus of the analysis is on the forms of words, phrases, clauses, and the sentences of the food and beverage ads. The purpose is to examine if TV advertisements convey the information of the product as well as the cultural values of the consumers. The results of the study show that TV advertisements use emotional persuasive strategies in order to persuade the consumers to buy the advertised product. Also, the findings reveal that the TV ads of food and beverage intensively provide the consumer with persuasive product information and mirror the cultural values of the consumer as well.
Park and Lee (2019), conduct a discourse analysis of online product reviews from the US and South Korea. The authors discuss the notion of digital consumerism and culture in their study. Their focus is on the interaction of the consumer with online product reviews. Furthermore, Park and Lee highlight the intercultural perspective of the consumers. Accordingly, the study tackles the cultural differences in representing the issue of consumerism in online advertising. Also, the study examines the message strategies which are utilized in the online product advertising reviews. Hence, the purpose is to uncover the construction of digital consumerism in such reviews. The findings reveal that there are important cultural differences between the US and South Korea in online product advertising reviews. These differences are based on the power of judgment of the online consumer as well as on the advertising content of online products, which used transformational messages in order to advertise the product itself.
Bi (2019), analyzes the print advertisements of Coca-Cola according to Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA). The study is based on the visual grammar approach of MDA by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006). The analysis focuses on three types of meanings in the print advertisements which are the reproduction, the interactive, and the composition meaning. The purpose is to examine how visual grammar reveals the three types of meaning and projects the professional characteristic traits of the characters in the advertisements. The findings exhibit the following notions: the Coca-Cola print advertisements are expressive of the benefits of Coca-Cola, and the duality of image and language can be manifested through visual grammar.
In conducting an analysis of a text, certain detailed tools are used by the analyst. Moreover, a textual analysis reveals two important notions about the text. First, it conveys what is present in a text, and second, it helps the analyst to gain insight into what lurks beneath the text. That is, “what is absent in a text” (Fairclough, 2010, p. 92) floats to the surface, when suitable textual analytical tools are utilized by the analyst in conducting an in-depth textual examination of the linguistic features of the text.
This paper makes use of the qualitative descriptive approach in its study of the selected Pepsi advertisements. According to Macnamara (2005, p.5), qualitative analysis is important because it enables the analyst to comprehend the deep meaning of texts. It also helps in understanding the interpretations of the audience about the specified text under scrutiny. Furthermore, Macnamara believes that uncovering the hidden meaning of the text as well as the interpretations of the audience which are associated with the text, is the prime goal of analyzing the content of media texts.
This paper conducts a linguistic textual analysis of selected Pepsi advertisements. The analysis is adopted from Fairclough’s (2010) CDA notion of textual analysis. According to Fairclough (2010), “discourse is seen as simultaneously a language text, spoken or written” (p. 132) wherein four elements are worth examining in a text. These are the vocabulary, the grammar, cohesion, and the structure of the text. . These elements are based on Halliday’s (1985) notion of systemic grammar. Hence, by pinpointing such elements in a text, the analyst is able to unveil “different ‘process types’ and associated ‘participants’ as options, and systemic selection of a particular type [of discourse which] may be ideologically significant” (Fairclough, 1992 b, p. 27). Thus, Fairclough (2010) states that such notions of textual analysis help not only in uncovering what is ‘in’ the text, but also what is ‘not’ there in the text, i.e. absent. The four elements of textual analysis are highlighted as follows.
The vocabulary element focuses on the lexical choices in a text that are loaded with political and ideological underpinnings. Moreover, the grammatical element stresses notions of transitivity such as mental, relational, behavioural, material, verbal and existential processes, in addition to passives, nominals, clauses, and the role of the social participants in particular events. Furthermore, cohesion is related to the use of cohesive ties, for example, the semantic relations such as hyponymy, synonymy, as well as the use of reference, ellipsis, substitution, hedges, conjunctions, and repetition, which join together in order to form the text itself. In addition, the text structure focuses on the characteristic traits that combine to comprise the text genre itself. That is, what are the components which make the text under analysis relate to a specified text genre. According to Fairclough (1992 b), rather than a text being a product, it is also a process “in the social reproduction of existing social relations and structures” (p. 28). Thus, this level of analysis exposes underlying ideologies in a text and helps the analyst to reveal the writer’s intentions behind a particular grammatical, lexical, semantic, or semiotic choice. Also, the element of textual structure enables the analyst to examine the social practices, the social events, and the representation of human as well as non-human participants.
Since this paper analyzes the language of selected Pepsi advertisements, the researcher also adopts Cook’s (2001) eight classifications of the Context of Advertisements. According to Cook, there are eight classifications of advertisements’ context as follows:
- Substance: is the physical material which carriers or relays text.
- The inclusion of music and pictures.
- Paralanguage: is the meaningful behavior accompanying language. These are the voice quality, gestures, facial expressions and touch (in speech), and choice of typeface and letter sizes (in writing).
- Situation: Includes the properties and relations of objects and people in the vicinity of the texts, as perceived by the participants.
- Co-text: is related to the text which precedes or follows that under analysis, and which participants judge to belong to the same discourse.
- Intertext: includes texts which the participants perceive as belonging to other discourse, but which they associated with the text under construction, and which affects their interpretation.
- Participants: are described in terms of their intentions and interpretations, knowledge and beliefs, attitudes, affiliations and feelings. Each participant is simultaneously a part of the context and an observer of it. Participants are usually described as senders and receivers.
- Function: means what the text is intended to do for the senders and addressers, or perceived to do by the receivers and addressees. That is, the text’s intention and perception as it is judged by the participants. (p. 4).
Analysis and Discussion
This section of the research paper is an in depth analysis of 11 eclectic Pepsi advertisements chosen from the overall collected data. The eclectic advertisements are selected for their significance in including detailed interpersonal ties such as social institutions. Also, their significance resides in their embedding of specific ideologies and messages, which are a site for manipulating and persuading the audience to buy and consume the Pepsi beverage.
Sample # 1. 1950 Pepsi-Cola Advertisement (in black and white)
This advertisement has the following slogan:
Certified Quality and more of it!
6 Big Bottles”
and the company logo which has the following written on it:
At the vocabulary level, the lexical choices are easily comprehended. They are related to the field of quality control. Most of the words are single lexical items with no complexity in its composition. Moreover, at the grammatical level, there is the use of three nouns such as ‘Pepsi’, ‘Bottles’, and ‘Pepsi-Cola’. Also, the ad uses the adjective phrase ‘certified quality’ in order to create in the consumers a sense of safety. Pragmatically, it shows that the company cares about the health of its consumers, because it is selling them a ‘certified’ product and not any other product. In addition, the adjective ‘ice-cold’ is used in order to reveal the notion that Pepsi is best enjoyed when it is cold and freezing. This is also manifested through the use of the verb ‘drink’ which is in the imperative form. This use is a direct order to the consumers to drink Pepsi and enjoy it, while the beverage is ‘ice-cold’.
Moreover, in the advertisement there is the use of the behavioural process of drinking Pepsi by specific participants as follows. There is a man pouring Pepsi to a girl, and a boy is trying to take a Pepsi bottle from a woman. Also, the brand name is repeated three times in the ad, which reinforces the product in the mind of the consumer. As such, the advertisement is a picture of a family whose members are a father, a mother, a boy, and a girl. This family is enjoying drinking Pepsi-Cola in the kitchen.
Furthermore, what is noticeable is the number of the family members which is four in total. The significance is that this is the number of a typical family. In addition, the dress of the parents reveals that they are of a middle class family. The participants in the advertisement (the family members) are happy while consuming the beverage, where all of them are smiling. Accordingly, the function of such para-language is to convey to the audience and consumers that drinking Pepsi makes people happy.
Sample # 2. 1960 Pepsi-Cola Advertisement (in colours)
The advertisement is a picture of people in a social event, a classic party in particular. This is revealed from the participants: four couples who are elegantly dressed. Each of them is drinking Pepsi-Cola. The men are holding a Pepsi-Cola bottle whereas the women are holding glass cups containing the beverage. Also, all the couples seem to have a good time. This is vivid through their happy faces.
In terms of the slogans of the advertisement, there are many. All of them stress the notion of being sociable as follows:
“The Sociables prefer Pepsi”
“Be Sociable, Have a Pepsi”
“Refresh without filling”
At the vocabulary level, the lexical choices are related to the field of social events, meetings, and gatherings. So, the main thematic frame of this advertisement is sociability. Also, the vocabulary describes what sociable people do: they ‘Prefer Pepsi’. Thus, from the very beginning the ad directs the attention of the consumers to the kind of beverage which must be consumed and to what socially happens to them when they drink Pepsi.
In terms of grammar, the adjectives are the basis of this ad. The advertisement uses adjectives such as ‘sociable’, ‘sociables’, ‘pleasant’, and ‘favourite’, where all of them pertain to the image of happiness and having a good time. Accordingly, this embeds the notion that by consuming Pepsi one becomes likeable, sociable, and a happy social member at the same time. Furthermore, the advertisement uses imperatives such as ‘Be, ‘Have’, and ‘Refresh’, as a direct call upon consumers to drink Pepsi. However, this calling is not without any persuasive means. As such, the advertisement uses a long narrative-like slogan in which it narrates the characteristic traits of those who drink Pepsi. Thus, the ad stresses many processes such as relational, behavioural, mental, and existential. These are exemplified in the participants who “have a talent for friendship”. They also like “fun” and “Pepsi”. Accordingly, such people become and are “sociables”. Pragmatically, this embeds the notion that Pepsi is an important part of the consumers’ life and it is something which they cannot live without. Hence, Pepsi is a necessity.
Moreover, there are many repetitions in the advertisement such as ‘sociable’ which is repeated three times, ‘refresh’ (twice), ‘Pepsi’ (twice), and the prepositional phrase structures ‘ at + noun’, ‘at + verb’, ‘at + adj.’ in “at play, at home, at soda fountain”. These structures are important because they portray the various aspects which engulf the life of the consumers. Hence, this conveys that Pepsi actually resides in every part of the consumers’ life.
Sample # 3.a. 1970 Pepsi-Cola (Pepsi) advertisement.
This is the year when there is a display of two logos of the brand name in the advertisement: Pepsi-Cola and Pepsi. This selected advertisement shows a sportsman, a race driver in particular, holding a ‘Pepsi-Cola’ bottle and is smiling happily. Also, there is a picture inside the advertisement. It is of three people as follows: two young women and a young man. All are holding Pepsi-Cola bottles and seem to be having a good time. Furthermore, at the bottom left corner of the advertisement there is the display of the brand logo as “Pepsi”. Hence, the participants include people in the domain of sports, and specifically, car racing. Moreover, the same participant (the car driver) is portrayed in two places. First, at the racing track while he is holding a Pepsi bottle, and second, out of the racing track while he is dressed casually and is with the company of two young women.
As for the slogan, there are two slogans which focus on the theme of bravery and action as follows:
“Turn it on with the taste of Pepsi”
“Flip open a Pepsi-for a bright bold taste of what is happening now”
These slogans are significant in relation to the advertisement and its participants. The dominating concept is ‘the concept of three’, which is conveyed in sports through paralanguage in three notions. First, there is one woman, one Pepsi-Cola bottle, and one car. Second, there is one man and two women. Third, the number of the sports racing car is 3. As such this signifies that the sense of achievement exists only when three elements combine. Also, it signifies that number 3 is a lucky number.
Furthermore, the vocabulary is related to the field of adventure and action. Grammatically, there are two imperative verbs in ‘Turn’ and ‘Flip’. These call upon the audience/consumers to be adventurous. In “Turn it on with the taste of Pepsi”, the verb signifies the notion that for the driver to enjoy sports, he must fuel his car with Pepsi. Thus, the embedded message is that the driver can only experience the joy of racing and the company of women, if he drinks Pepsi. And the opposite holds true. Moreover, the prepositional phrase “for a bright bold taste of what is happening now” is of essence. The adjectives ‘bright’ and ‘bold’ in this phrase exhibit the personal traits of the participants. The adjectives hint at the notion that in order to keep up with what is taking place in society or “happening now”, the consumers must drink Pepsi. Hence by consuming Pepsi, one becomes brave, full of life, and famous.
Sample # 3.b. 1970 Pepsi Advertisement: Pepsi-Baseball Kids
In this advertisement, the dominant logo is ‘Pepsi’ and the “Pepsi-Cola” logo is there no more. This advertisement also focuses on the theme of sports and being healthy. However, the target audience is not the adult or the young consumer. The new audience is composed of sports kids. As such, the participants in the advertisement are three kids dressed in sports clothes, and in particular, the baseball costume. So, they are all suited up with the necessary baseball equipment: the hats, the bats, and the gloves. Moreover, the kids are extremely happy while they are holding their Pepsi bottles. The kids are of various ages, and this is significant because it reveals the notion that Pepsi brings together the kids who are almost of the same age period. In addition, the advertisement plays on the issue of being healthy, since the kids are sports kids. So, the message to other kids is the following: if you want to be healthy, drink Pepsi.
In terms of slogans, the dominant prime slogan is the following:
“You’ve got a lot to live
Pepsi’s got a lot to give”
The attention capturing feature “of commodity advertising genre” (Fairclough 2010, p. 102) in the slogan is the use of the pronoun ‘You’. This use is important because it personifies the consumers and it shows that the company cares for their well-being, especially if they are of a very young age. Moreover, the expression “got a lot to live” and “got a lot to give” serve as attention grabbing repetitions. The rhyming of the expressions as well as the exchange of the initial sounds in ‘live’ and ‘give’ create musicality to the consumers’ ear. As such, the expressions capture the attention of the kids. Pragmatically, the two verb phrases portray the beverage company as a caring company which is ready to keep up with the kids during their period of growing up. That is, as long as the kids are maturing, Pepsi will be their companion.
Sample # 4.a. 1980 Pepsi Advertisement
This advertisement focuses on what it calls the “new generation”, and the thematic frame of the advertisement is ‘Sports’. The participants are three athletic adults: two men and a woman. Again, the concepts of ‘three’ is revealed in this advertisement. Also, the participants are dressed in various sportswear. The woman is in a boxing costume, the first man is holding dumbbells whereas the second man is playing on a jump rope. Hence, through these participants the beverage company is sending a powerful message to its consumers: Pepsi is there in every kind of sports.
Moreover, what is significant in this advertisement is the following. First, the advertisement does not contain a picture of the beverage product. Second, there is a picture of a cloth which shows the Pepsi logo and reads as follows: “APPAREL PEPSI AMERICA”, then at the bottom of the advertisement there is the slogan: “THE LOOK OF A NEW GENERATION”. Third, the woman has the word ‘PEPSI’ printed on her shirt. Accordingly, such a lay out of the advertisement is extremely eye-catching because it focuses on the “LOOK” of what the company considers “A NEW GENERATION”. Hence, the importance of the advertisement lay out is that the company has moved into manufacturing not only a beverage, but also clothing. Pragmatically, it means that Pepsi resides in the consumers’ style. That is, even if the consumer is not actually drinking Pepsi, he/she is consuming the products of the Pepsi Company and is continuously reminded of the beverage.
Furthermore, the vocabulary is related to ‘clothing’ as is shown in the word ‘apparel’, and what is significant is the use of the identity marker ‘America’. Also, the sentence slogan “THE LOOK OF A NEW GENERATION” is of importance because it summarizes the intention of the Pepsi Company. Accordingly, the inclusion of the proper noun ‘America’ and the words ‘look’, ‘new’, and ‘generation’ exhibits the notion that the company is superior in the field of beverage manufacturing, and it dominates all the country markets with its products. Consequently and by semantic extension, it means that the generation which Pepsi is targeting is also of a posh and a ‘superior’ social status.
Sample # 4.b. 1980 Diet Pepsi Advertisement
This advertisement is different from the previous advertisements in many aspects. First, it displays a picture of a woman who is in a sitting-laying position. Second, the advertisement does not display a Pepsi bottle but there is a Pepsi can. Third, the type of Pepsi beverage is not the ordinary consumed type, but it is a ‘diet’ Pepsi. Fourth, on the Pepsi can there are the following words: “Diet Pepsi one calorie”. Fifth, under the picture of the Pepsi can there is the slogan: “Now you see it…”, and sixth, above the woman’s curved hip there is a slogan which graphologically matches the curve. The slogan is: “Now you don’t”.
In terms of vocabulary, the slogans are related to the field of diet and good health. The most obvious example is the noun ‘diet’ which functions as an adjective to the noun ‘Pepsi’. Grammatically, the use of the adverb ‘now’ dominates the ad. It is significant because it directs the consumers’ attention to the effects of a diet Pepsi. Also, the expression ‘one calorie’ shows how much sugar is there in a diet Pepsi can. Moreover, the use of the personal pronoun ‘you’ places the consumer at the focal attention of the company’s care. Such a use also creates a sense of individual prominence in the consumers’ mind and portrays them as important social members. Furthermore, the semantic significance is that the usage of the negation ‘not’ in “you don’t” creates a mental schema in the mind of the consumers, as well. Pragmatically, it is related to the paralanguage of the woman’s posture. It entails the idea that although the consumer sees ‘one calorie’ on the Pepsi can, the effect of this calorie is not seen when Pepsi is consumed. This is because the calorie has no visual effect in terms of body fat. However, the implied message is that a can of diet Pepsi helps the consumers, especially women, to maintain a good body shape which is similar to that of the woman’s body in the advertisement.
Sample # 5. 1990 Pepsi Advertisement: Shaquille O’Neal
This advertisement is a picture of a basketball player who was famous in the 1990, whose name is Shaquille O’Neal. He is displayed as not only being tall, but is almost gigantic, standing near a neighborhood basketball court, and is carrying a big Pepsi can dispenser machine. Moreover, there are many slogans in the advertisement. The first slogan is positioned at the top of the player’s picture: “Shaquille O’Neal Unplugged”. So, the meaning of the slogan is manifested when the advertisement shows that the Pepsi can dispenser machine has been unplugged from its place and is carried by O’Neal. It means that he has unplugged it because it contains many Pepsi cans. That is, since he is a huge player, one Pepsi can will not suffice. Pragmatically, it entails the notion that O’Neal needs many Pepsi cans in order to quench his immense thirst. Moreover, there is a wide smile on his face which means that he is satisfied with the amount of Pepsi.
In addition, at the bottom right of the advertisement there are slogans in the structure of ‘three’: “Be Young”, “Have Fun”, and “Drink Pepsi”. In terms of grammar and punctuation, these three slogans are of essence. They sequentially order the consumer to perform a specific social practice. Also, they are semantically significant because they highlight a condition and a result. Hence, in order to have fun and enjoy life, the consumer must be “Young”, and the enjoyment is not fulfilled except by drinking Pepsi. Furthermore, the three lexical items such as the adj. ‘young’, the noun ‘fun’, and the noun ‘Pepsi’ collocate together in order to create mental, relational, and behavioral processes in the mind of the consumers, that they are full of life and are socially significant members.
Sample # 6. 2000 Pepsi Advertisement: Pepsi online 2000
This advertisement is a screenshot of the online Pepsi site. On this site, the consumer is ‘ordered’ to ‘get stuff’ after buying Pepsi. Also, the site displays other Pepsi products such as Mountain Dew. So, the consumer is called upon to buy Pepsi and then go to the Pepsi site in order to win ‘stuff’. Moreover, the site contains many other online search engines and sites from which the consumer can get the prize. These are sports and music sites. So, the advertisement is as follows. There is the Pepsi prize site www.pepsistuff.com, and then there is the advertisement slogan: “Buy Pepsi,
In terms of vocabulary, the lexical choices are related to the field of buying and selling, as well as to electronic commercial commodity transaction. Also, the existence of the online site itself is significant, because it marks the targeting of a new generation which is the generation of technology. Hence, this is the new targeted audience: the generation of online consumers. Pragmatically, the embedded message is that ‘if you are not one of those who know how to handle a computer and use technology, you cannot benefit from what Pepsi offers to the technology-know-how consumers’.
Moreover, in terms of grammar there are three imperative verbs such as ‘buy’, ‘go’, and ‘get’. These order the consumer to perform a specific action. However, such a performance is not without a benefit. So, the company plays on the notion of ‘order and award’. As such, it stimulates the consumer to buy either Pepsi or Mountain Dew in order to win a prize by logging in to the designated Pepsi site. Accordingly, the advertisement lures the consumers through mental, behavioral, verbal, representational, and material manipulative processes. Therefore, the consumer becomes attracted to the idea of being a winner and of being in a possession of a prize. Hence, the advertisement entails the following notion: the more you buy, the more you win. Consequently, this notion becomes a ‘resident’ in the unconscious mental state of the consumer, which in turn will keep him/her in a continuous state of buying and consuming the beverage.
Sample # 7. 2000 Pepsi advertisement: Pepsi Generations Summer Campaign
This advertisement includes many paralinguistic features as follows. The ad portrays a picture of a famous singer, Michael Jackson, singing on a stage over a standup mic. His position is in the middle right part of the advertisement. Facing him are two notions. First, there is the Pepsi slogan to the xupper left. Second, under the slogan there is a picture of six Pepsi cans which are arranged in pairs. Each pair reveals the Pepsi logo design change across three generations. In addition, on each pair of cans there is a picture of a famous singer of a specified generation. Thus, there are three generations as such: the 70’s is represented by Ray Charles, the 80’s by Michael Jackson, and the 90’s which is represented by Britney Spears. Hence, the Pepsi can changes as the generation itself changes.
Moreover, this advertisement was especially tailored for Pepsi’s ‘Generations Summer Campaign’. This embeds the notion that the company is targeting a specific audience: those who are in summer camps or going on a summer vacation. As such, the ad persuades its consumers through including famous celebrities in the field of the music industry. Accordingly, this collocates with the social behavior of people during summer such as partying, singing, and dancing. Furthermore, the entailment is that the consumers who will enjoy Pepsi, are only those who are spending their summer either at the beach or camping. That is, the consumers who will have the privilege of the Pepsi Campaign are only the ones who are having fun and are enjoying their summer.
In addition, the slogan of the Pepsi Campaign is as follows:
THIS IS THE PEPSI FOR EVERY GENERATION.
In terms of vocabulary, the slogan has the structure of generalization. Furthermore, in terms of grammar, the slogan is a declarative statement which starts with the deictic marker ‘THIS’. Such a deixis signifies the specific product and pinpoints to its audience. It means that the displayed Pepsi can is the product which is consumed by many generations. Pragmatically, the slogan reveals the notion that the company has been refreshing its consumers throughout various generations. What asserts this notion is the use of the adverb ‘EVERY’. Hence, this advertisement reveals the importance of the beverage and informs the audience that the company has been accompanying different generations. Also, the advertisement embeds the idea that Pepsi will still accompany the coming generation, because the audience will still consume the same beverage.
Sample # 8. 2020 Pepsi Advertisement: Pepsi 2020
The advertisement displays a teenager wearing casual clothing, carrying a backpack, and going somewhere. His right hand is raised in order to hold his painful bent down neck. In his left hand he holds his mobile phone. Hence, the hidden message is that the pain in his neck is the result of his continuous phone use. Moreover, the advertisement is totally coloured in blue, but contains variations of the blue colour. The proportion of the body of the participant is unusual, because his legs are big, his arms are huge and out of the ordinary, and his head is very small. So, the participant is portrayed doing two things: using his phone (probably watching something), and then raising his neck while drinking Pepsi from a Pepsi can. In addition, between the two actions there is the advertisement slogan: “Phones ruin your neck. Fix it with a sip.”. Then, under the slogan there is a picture of the Pepsi can that was designed in 2008, which is Pepsi’s latest design.
The slogan is in two forms, a statement and a command. The first part presents the problem which arises from the excess use of the mobile phone, which is a neck pain. The second part of the slogan presents the solution. Its structure is an imperative command which is “Fix it with a sip”. Pragmatically, the advertisement directs the attention of the consumers to excess phone usage. Also, the ad suggests an alternative and a ‘cure’ to neck pain, which is to raise one’s head while sipping Pepsi. Furthermore, such an action is symbolic of pride. That is, holding one’s head up high while drinking Pepsi is symbolic of the notion that the consumers are proud of drinking this beverage. Hence, what is significant is that the intended message of this advertisement will be the ground base of the main ultimate Pepsi message in the next eclectic sample advertisement. Accordingly, the theme of this ad moves from ‘cure’ to ‘total addiction and life-saving’ in the coming sample advertisement.
Sample # 9. 2020 Pepsi Advertisement: Pepsi Serum.
This advertisement is the ultimate thematic embedded message by the Pepsi Company. The ad contains no slogans save the beverage brand name and logo. Hence, paralanguage is the main component of the advertisement. As such, the advertisement is a picture of a blood serum which is hung on a hook and its constituent liquid runs down through a plastic capillary tube. Moreover, the beverage brand name and logo are printed on the serum plastic bag, which indicates that the serum is composed of Pepsi and not of blood. The serum bag contains the dark-coloured caramelized Pepsi beverage in the form of a syrup. Furthermore, the intended embedded message of the advertisement is: ‘Pepsi is a life-saving beverage’, because the serum capillary tube at the end of the bag is left hanging down. It is here where the picture is cropped by the advertisers. This entails the notion that the serum is being given to a patient. As such, the mental schema which is created by the advertisement is that the consumers are the ones who are hooked to the Pepsi serum. Therefore, the message behind this advertisement is as follows: ‘Pepsi has become in your system. Without Pepsi, you are lifeless’.
The 1960’s selected advertisement plays on the ego of the audience or the consumers and their yearning to ‘belong’ to a social group. Also, the ad pragmatically embeds the idea that only those who consume Pepsi are sociable and happy social members. Accordingly, this entails two notions. First, if people drink Pepsi then they will be happy. Second, if people do not drink Pepsi and choose to have another brand of beverage, then they will be social outcasts and unhappy individuals. Thus, the play on the individual’s sense of ‘being a sociable member’ is the strategy used in the advertisement in order for the company to lure its target audience.
The significant feature of the 1960’s selected advertisement sample, and of some other advertisement samples, is the use of “an obvious promotional element” (Fairclough, 2010, p. 102) which is the presence of specific traits that are related to the genre of advertising. These are conveyed in the use of the pronoun ‘you’ as in “You are one of the sociables”, and the conversational style/genre in “and of course, they have a linking for Pepsi”, in addition to the “genre of prestige, self-promotional genre, and the logo” (Fairclough, 2010, p. 201). Accordingly, the advertisement minimizes the distance between the consumer and the beverage company. It also creates a sense of friendship, because friends always meet at social gatherings. In addition, the advertisement plays on the sense of self image, where the consumers become ‘sociable’, i.e., accepted by society. As such, upon drinking Pepsi one becomes of a high caliber as if he/she is someone famous. Furthermore, the presence of the logo itself stands as a reminder of the cause of the consumers’ happiness and social success.
In the 1970’s selected advertisements, what is noticeable is that the Pepsi Company heavily stresses important themes such as sports and being healthy, and it targets a very young audience. However, the 1980’s selected advertisements such as the “NEW GENERATION” advertisement functions as a mental reminder to the Pepsi consumers of the following: Pepsi is in the day to day activities and style of the people. Furthermore, it pragmatically entails the notion that Pepsi is not for everybody. So, one must be a classified as a “Pepsi Generation” in order to enjoy the privilege and the ‘prestige’ that comes with the social existential process of ‘being’ a part of the Pepsi enterprise.
Furthermore, the 1980’s selected advertisements present new themes to the audience. These themes are ‘new generation’, i.e. being special and distinguished among others in society, and the theme ‘perfect body image’. The second theme plays on the individual’s way of how one sees the body shape. Accordingly, it is an indirect iconization of the idea of a perfect body. As such, the advertisements use these themes as a persuasion strategy by harping on the ego of the consumers. Also, the advertisements construct in the minds of the consumers a stereotypical image of perfection and distinction. Consequently, the marketization of such an ideology and the company’s pursuit to make it a norm, are the actual intentions behind these advertisements.
In the O’Neal advertisement, the existence of collocation in ‘young, ‘fun, and ‘Pepsi’ creates the necessary condition for the state of happiness in the consumer. Accordingly, the advertisement targets the young generation whose members are interested in sports, especially the basketball fans. Thus, the O’Neal advertisement sends a decisive message to the designated Pepsi consumers: ‘If you want to be famous and athletic like O’Neal, you must drink Pepsi”. However, the opposite is embedded in the same message: “if you don’t drink Pepsi, you are not famous, healthy, and successful like O’Neal”, which ultimately means ‘you are nothing’.
The Pepsi online 2000 advertisement is significant because it presents the notion of ‘prize’. Also, what is worth mentioning is that the Pepsi Company is no more targeting the family social institution. However, in the company’s focal aim reside consumers of a particular age and of a specific interest.
Accordingly, the selected Pepsi advertisements focused on specific themes, particular ideologies, and designated target audience as consumers. Thus, the advertisements portrayed the family ties through displaying the image of a happy family gathering during lunchtime. Through such a portrayal, the advertisement appealed to a wide range of consumers. However, the family institution started to fade from the advertisement and a new audience was being targeted such as young adults through the theme of companionship. Later on, an even younger audience started to become under the focus of the Pepsi Company: the teenagers, through the themes of fun, parties, sports, and spending a good time. Furthermore, Sports remained the main thematic frame on which the Pepsi Company continued to harp, but the consumers who are addressed are kids, because kids always like sweet beverages. Contrary to the previous advertisements which were analysed in this paper before the year 2000, the advertisements from the year 2000 onwards had a different look, theme, and target audience. The theme changed to ‘technology’ and the target was specifically towards the ‘whizz-kids’ and everyone who was skilled at dealing with digital material. However, a striking powerful message sent by the Pepsi Company was through the Pepsi serum advertisement. Through this advertisement the company boldly informs its consumers that there is no life without the consumption of Pepsi.
In conclusion, what has been presented and analyzed reveals that the Pepsi Company relied heavily on social ties. Through social ties, the company fostered its relations with the consumers and transmitted its ideology of consumerism. Hence, the analysis of the selected Pepsi advertisements conveyed such social ties and ideological underpinnings. Therefore, through the presentation of its advertisements in a way which tackled significant social practices in every year across many generations, the Pepsi Company has succeeded in persuading and manipulating its audience to buy and consume the Pepsi beverage. This success was primarily because the company used what Fairclough (2010) labels “promotional elements” (p. 102), which in turn appealed to the sense of prestige, self-promotion, personalization, and sense of belonging in the consumers themselves. Accordingly, what fortified the success of the Pepsi Company was also its use of specific selected persuasive strategies such as the “compressed storytelling, photography, and rhythm” (Cook, 2001, p, 3), which made the selected advertisements “memorable, enjoyable, and amusing” (Cook, 2001, p, 3).
To conclude with, the social practices which are highlighted in the selected Pepsi advertisements function as social ties which bound the social individual to the society. Such practices in turn embed ideological ties without which an individual becomes a social outcast and loses the notion of ‘belonging’; a notion which is the basis of one’s social existence. Therefore, the sense of belonging, of being likeable, sociable, and of being someone of value in society, are ideological ties intended by the selected Pepsi advertisements.
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Appendix: Selected Pepsi Advertisements