Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice – Part II


Social Justice for Sale (
Part I of Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice) addressed how recent advertisements from companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Gillette promote varying aspects of social responsibility via campaigns of unity, diversity, and social justice. Is this the dawn of the ethical corporation? Is this about changing minds and perceptions to create unity? Do these campaigns challenge the system or is this just about maintaining a status quo?

(To read the first half of the series click here for Part I)

Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice Part II:
The Hidden Costs of Super Commercials of Unity & Social Justice

Since that Coca-Cola hilltop commercial first played 50 years ago, the image of inclusivity the brand portrays today is salient as ever. Yet, the company is accused of dehydrating communities around the world of one of the most vital resources: water ( In Town With Little Water, Coca-Cola Is Everywhere. So Is Diabetes). Greenpeace notes that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were found to be the worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits. The company is also charged with violating workers’ rights in a number of countries such as Columbia, Turkey, Guatemala and Russia (Coca-Cola: Drinking the World Dry). Who are they really including in their messages of “unity and positivity?”

Continue reading “Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice – Part II”

Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice – Part I

 

Just before the Star-Spangled Banner ceremonially started Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, a minute long commercial with a message of “unity and positivity” kicked off one of the most commercialized events on the planet. No, the NFL did not welcome back Colin Kaepernick. And PETA did not join forces with Tom Brady to promote veganism (is Tom Brady even vegan?). Rather, Atlanta hometown sweetheart Coca-Cola was promoting diversity and inclusion in their Warhol inspired advert “A Coke is A Coke.” The company is purported to be rolling out the red carpet for everyone, including rival Pepsi. As other companies like Nike and Gillette join the social justice crusade with their own campaigns, is this the dawn of the ethical corporation? But, is this really about changing minds and perceptions to create unity?

Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice Part I:
Social Justice For Sale

Continue reading “Selling Diversity, Unity & Social Justice – Part I”

Because YOU’RE an early adopter…

I recently walked past a bus shelter displaying an advert for new flavours of Diet Coke — Feisty Cherry and Exotic Mango — bearing the exhortation “because you’re an early adopter.”

This tickled my inner Marxist.  Maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men of late, but I couldn’t help thinking what brilliant advertising this was. Setting aside the fact that Cherry Coke was introduced in 1985 – and what exactly it is that makes this variant “feisty” –  who cares what the product is? YOU should purchase it, because YOU are a trend-setter! YOUR patterns of consumption are so much more on point than others, who admire YOU so much they’ll want to emulate YOU. We, YOUR friends at Coca Cola, want YOU to be a key element in the dissemination of this product. Because YOU are special. Because YOU have a valuable ability to recognize what will be popular before it’s popular. Because YOU are an early adopter. Continue reading “Because YOU’RE an early adopter…”

Advertising the American Dream

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial above for the new Cadillac ELR…? It’s been understandably lambasted for the way it relies on “American Dream” rhetoric to sell a car.  Everyman actor Neal McDonough is obnoxiously smug, and the appeal to what makes America great resorts to downright icky sanctimony and casual insults about what “other countries” are like. We are strong-willed and hardworking and awesome in every way. They flounce around with long vacations and a devil-may-care work/life balance that prioritizes cafés. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Continue reading “Advertising the American Dream”

The Last Word

brenda-wood-goes-inIf you’re in North America, at least, you can’t help but know that the Superbowl was last weekend — an annual celebration of football, yes, but also consumerism, since unveiling new and expensive-to-produce commercials has become part of its broadcast tradition.

This year Coke premiered an add in which “America the Beautiful” was sung in a variety of languages, while showing images of people who don’t look like you’re taken-for-granted white-bread citizens, and (predictably?) many who occupy various positions on the political right responded with varying degrees of outrage, demanding, for instance, that the song be sung “in American” — kind’a like saying “if the King James version was good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough for me.” Continue reading “The Last Word”