Sunday, March 15, 2009


I didn’t have my camera with me, but the sign looked like this one—except that it had a blue background. At least this one’s in Austin, too.

Photo source: rutlo

This morning on the way to church, I saw a new billboard. It featured the new Pepsi logo as the “O” in the word “POP.”

Why am I commenting on this sign? Well, this is Texas. I’ll come back to this later.

The purpose of advertising is to arouse a desire to purchase the product. This sign attempts to arouse desire by equating the Pepsi brand with the product through being included in a community through the common use of pop.

The problem is that using the word pop in Texas defines you as an outsider. Pop is a sound, not something you drink—unless you’re from someplace else. Native Texans say “soda,” “sodawater,” or (despite litigation) the generic use of the trademark of Pepsi’s chief competitor. (Notice the careful circumlocution!)

So this sign is a classic example of a major corporation and its advertising agency not bothering to understand its target audience.

The tinfoil hatters might say this is part of a greater conspiracy to further homogenize our culture. But I agree with the wise words a friend once told me. “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” Unfortunately, I don’t know who first offered that advice.

Let’s hope our corporate leaders get a clue before all of our jobs move elsewhere.

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