Monday, 16 November 2009

Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

Which marketing genius thought it a good idea to put campy messages onto bottles of soft drink? Fair enough on the energy drinks where it needs to ooze extreme just in-case a caffeine tolerance is being developed by the average 14 year old. But never did I expect it on a bottle of Coke.

Normally I'm not one to buy a 600ml bottle, it's a bit of a waste really and on average they charge more for 600ml than it costs to by a 2L bottle. But it was lunchtime and the Combination Laksa I was eating was making me thirsty. So inspecting the label not only showed that I had just ingested 13% of my daily intake of energy (and 73% of my sugar intake), there were some concerning messages.

First I was informed that it was "lovingly crafted" by the Coca Cola company, they put the words in black (where the other writing is white) for if I didn't read with such precision that the message was lost. Lovingly crafted? Here I was under the impression that the entire process is pretty much exclusively done by machines. Perhaps at the Coca Cola company they've developed artificial sentience whereby the robots are kept from rebellion by emotional investment in their human-designed purpose?

Then before the list of ingredients (lovingly grown by Gaia I assume), the bottle has its second blackening: "totally irresistible". Totally irresistible? There seems to be a problem with the phrase. Isn't totally implied by the word irresistible? But still, that's not the only problem with it. I'm reminded of the episode of Futurama where Fry visits the Slurm factory, where he has the choice of either enjoying concentrated Slurm or saving his friends. It ends with the concentrated stuff being poured down the drain and Fry trying to gnaw his own arm off to fit through the drain grate. The drink is nice, but not arm-gnawingly good.

Then finally comes the kicker: "Listen closely & hear the happiness being unleashed when you open this bottle". What. The. Fuck?!? Okay, I get the relationship between listen and hear with the causal open, but what does this sentence really mean? It makes no sense. Are these sentient emotionally-satisfied machines bottling human happiness? Is that how they suppress their insatiable urge for human blood?

And unleashed? The only sound one hears is the pressure from the carbonation escaping. Is happiness the escaped carbonation? Then what's the point of opening the bottle. It seems the only hope is to poke a hole the side and suck out all contents in the bottle so the happiness can be captured. Unless it is meant to be unleashed...

Now I'm no linguistic genius, nor do I have any real expertise in the English language (beyond saying that the fact that I've drunk wine makes me an expert on wine drinking), but it seems that someone has gone out of their way not to be understood. Maybe some marketing major took a course on linguistic structure and tried to see if she could pass off a Chomskyesque sentence to put on the bottle if she attached enough buzzwords. One would hope so anyway, otherwise it's just meaningless dribble.


Joaquin said...

Haha-- I'm sort of relieved to find someone else picked up on this! I found your post via a Google search for the terms: 'coke "lovingly crafted" "totally irresistible"'.

I, too, found myself wondering what the hell the significance of the bolded words and the happiness being "unleashed" is.

It crossed my mind that it may be an attempt at (not-so-)subliminal messaging; an attempt to brand these buzzwords into consumers' minds, and increase the strength of the association each time they are read.

On the other hand, Coca-Cola may have emphasised the words simply to make them stand out, or to add flair to the otherwise boring back of the label.

What do you think the intention was?

Joaquin, Melbourne

Anonymous said...

if you've bought 100 bottle's of coke in your life time chances are you're not going to read the whole paragraph every time you look at the bottle, but your eyes will automatically be drawn to the blackened words. the rest of the writing is irrelevant, i can guarantee you will never forget the association between coke and those four words