Ad Space – The Last 50 Seconds of Mad Men

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
We’re entering a New Age of Peace, Love, & Coca-Cola

We had to do this one sooner or later. Possibly the most well-regarded commercial in the history of TV advertising.

The genius of the ad isn’t just that it’s tapping into late 60’s/early 70’s “give peace a chance” movement and equating it with buying their product (though the audacity of that is impressive). But what’s crucial is the way it goes about it.

You have a bunch of young people, of all races and nationalities, gathered together in an idyllic rural environment, singing together about bringing the world together with love. It’s obvious what this ad is going for.

And yet, there’s nothing overtly political about it. Nothing that directly references protests or social movements or calls for change. It’s all nebulous, using language and iconography that’s evocative of the era’s peace movement, without using anything that, taken on its own, is indisputably a reference to it. There are no peace symbols or protest placards or dismantled weapons. This ad traffics in the vibe, the feeling of a movement, but not with the movement itself.

I think that’s how they’re able to get away with a message so exquisitely crass as: World Peace = Buying Coke. Because anyone inclined to be offended by such an exploitative move … well, what can they point to in the ad to prove that’s what it’s doing?

It’s blatant enough to make its message clear, but ephemeral enough that it evades any serious dissection.

That’s something Pepsi should have paid mind to when they took their own stab at a commercial like this: