Sprite's Spite

April 3 1997 3:30 AM

Sprite's Spite

Sprite's Spite

79000_79466_mov_icon
79000_79467_audio_icon

Sound02 - hairdryer.avi or Sound03 - hairdryer.mov; download time, 4 minutes at 56K Sound01 - VR-hairdryer.asf; for sound only

Jooky, produced for the Coca-Cola Co./Sprite Brand by Lowe & Partners/SMS.

Advertisement

This spot wasn't made for Jooky, the kooky product it seems to promote. It was made for Coca-Cola's Sprite--a fact it hides well. Only at the end of the spot is Sprite mentioned; only then does one realize that the string of clichés--sun and sand, beach towels and bikinis--invited you to suspend disbelief through the viewing, and that you fell for it.

41000_41904_jooky2

The thump of a Caribbean beat urges that you "open up a Jooky," and someone does. The screen fills with purple bubbles (a detail that, in retrospect, suggests a consumer-research finding that purple isn't the soft-drink color of choice). Then come the ubiquitous images--dude on surfboard, girl being tossed in blanket, crowd cheering--that link the product (be it deodorant or dentures, the Bahamas or a beverage) with that oldest persuader of them all: sex. "Jooky" and "nooky"--get it? The jaded viewer mocks the gag, then promptly buys it. Most consumers, studies have shown, believe themselves impervious to the pitiful ploys of advertising. Most consumers, studies have shown, are not--in fact, they are especially vulnerable when advertisers play directly to their skepticism.

41000_41905_jooky1

"It's a party in a can": Here's Poseidon, his adventure just beginning, emerging from the depths. He bears his burden of blonde and cans with ease. A hot young thing swings on a tire, offering you her drink. A jock makes short work of a pile of Jooky cans. Hard bodies dance toward the volleyball net: "Jooky is fun and fruity"--it "make you really kooky." The mandatory buffoon in the mock-Superman outfit romps on the sand, his one thought (you got it) captured in a comic-book bubble.

Bit by bit, the spot winks at its own satire. The jingle trips the light fantastic, promising the earth (Jooky "make you manly, mahn," in a Caribbean accent thick enough to thaw). What we get instead is a trip in the sand: Jooky in hand, a volleyball player falls flat on his face. He smiles beatifically, and--forsooth! He has a missing front tooth.

41000_41906_jooky3

Is Paradise fraying at the edges? Absolutely, the transition seems to say. Borrowing a political-advertising technique (a shot of a television, with the opponent's spot playing, as a sign that we're being manipulated, that what we're seeing isn't real), it takes us into a grungy living room, where two unbuffed slobs respond to the Jooky commercial just ending on their TV set. This pair falls plumb in the middle of the Jooky target group: no dates, no sun, no sand. What they do have is the storm raging outside--and the cheap college couch they're sitting on. Can Jooky transport them to sunshine and women? One of the men raises his can and looks within. He's searching for the beach. The other tries to open his can, and breaks the lift tab. It's happened to all of us--hard-to-pop cans, not hard bodies, are the reality of soft drinks. "Mine's busted" becomes the Jooky epitaph.

41000_41907_jooky4

"Image Is Nothing," says the chyron. But of course, it's everything in a spot that turns sunny visuals against soft-drink advertisers, using the images to make the long-overdue point that they are a stupid reason to pick a drink. The grunge feel reinforces the invitation to rebel against yuppiedom--"trust your taste buds," it says, "not commercials." The anti-image as image is powerful indeed. So is the message: Sprite must taste good if the company can risk advertising it this way. We hardly notice that the disclaimer mentions "Coca-Cola," the very company that's helped inure us to the images being satirized here. Or was that Pepsi? Initial impressions notwithstanding, Jooky ends up making intention and product crystal clear: It's taking on a whole genre on behalf of a drink that promises only good taste, not the good life.

--Robert Shrum

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Books
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.