Coca-Cola Advertising: Advertisers Know What You Desire


Ads use certain principles in delivering their messages. They appeal to particular desires among different members of the audience (Egendorf 18). Hence, the analysis of ads is important to both the audience and companies because it helps the audience understand the ads, which enhances their efficiency. On the other hand, it helps companies measure the efficiency of the ads. This paper analyzes a Coca-Cola advert that involves a young man and an old man.

The story starts in the morning when both men wake up to take their breakfast. The old man takes tea with bread, but the young man takes his tea with bread sandwich. The old man goes to work on a bicycle, but the young man drives to work. While in their offices, the young man uses a computer while the old man uses a typewriter.

They both go back home in the evening, and their wives prepare meals for them. The young man eats meals with many unnecessary ingredients. A note on the screen reminds him to live like the old man. They later meet in a park, each with a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Advertising

Jib Fowles in his article, Advertising’s fifteen basic appeals, argues that each advert follows a particular principle in passing its message to the audience. In this case, the ad uses the need for prominence and the need to achieve. He proposes fifteen appeals that many companies use when formulating their ads. The need to achieve and the need for prominence are among the fifteen appeals. According to Fowles, the need for prominence entails wanting to be admired and respected.

He also argues that it includes the desire for a high status in the society. On the other hand, the need to achieve entails the dedication to achieve something that is difficult to achieve and be better than other people. The young man in the ad adopts the old man’s eating habits because the old man has lived longer than modern men. Steve Craig’s text, Men’s men and women’s women, is also very crucial in the analysis of this ad. Its analysis of ads helps categorize this ad as a men’s ad because it puts men at the center.

It concentrates on men because they take Coca-Cola more than women do. It uses men as the main characters while women only play peripheral roles. For example, they wake them up in the morning to prepare meals for them. Another relevant dimension in the analysis of this ad is the social equality dimension. Marchand in his article, The Parable of the Democracy of Goods, argues that some ads make their audience believe that they can have anything regardless of their class.

This paper analyzes the appealing principles the Coca-Cola ad uses in convincing its target audience. Among the principles it uses include the needs for prominence and achievement, the social equality phenomenon and the “men’s men” ideology in communicating to its audience, who are mostly men.

Firstly, Fowles argues that people who experience the need for prominence always look up to others who excelled in certain fields (23). He calls this appeal “the need to be admired and respected” (Fowles 22). People who experience this need always wish they could look like their mentors. Many companies always take advantage of this appeal to create adverts that make their target groups believe that using their products can help them become as prominent as the characters in the ads (Fowles 23).

In the case of the Coca Cola advert, the young man admires and respects the old man because of his lifestyle. He wishes he could have a lifestyle that is as comfortable as that of the old man. He only comes to realize toward the end of the ad that the old man takes Coca-Cola. Therefore, he also takes his bottle of Coca-Cola with the hope of being like the old man. More so, the excitement he exhibits upon meeting the old man shows his admiration for the old man.

Secondly, the ad applies the need to achieve in persuading its audience. Fowles argues that “this need makes people strive for good lives and careers” (22). Ads which use this principle always associate products with winners and heroes (Fowles 22). Therefore, the target audience always buys the products because of the belief that they will help them achieve what their role models achieved (Fowles 22).

In the context of this article, the old man lives long, and the young man considers long life an achievement. As a result of this discovery, the young man decides to take Coca-Cola the way the old man does in order to live long. In addition, the young man strives to have a good job and life. He has a car, and his job seems to be good for him. His desire to live long and the industrious spirit he exhibits satisfy Fowles definition of the need to achieve.

Thirdly, some ads purpose to create a sense of social equality among the audience (Marchand 150). They always achieve this objective through informing their audience that the products are not discriminatory. Marchand argues that “the wonders of modern production and distribution enabled every person to enjoy the society’s significant pleasure, convenience or benefit” (151).

For example, the Coca-Cola ad depicts the old man and the young man as belonging to different social classes: the young man is richer than the old man because he drives to work while the old man rides on his bicycle.

Though the two begin their lives in different periods, their living standards are clearly different. Nonetheless, they can both afford buying a bottle of Coca-Cola. Therefore, Coca-Cola is not discriminatory. It is made for all people regardless of the amount of their wealth. This element of the advert appeals to classes of people who think Coca-Cola is too expensive for them.

It is also common for companies to formulate their ads by considering the sex of their audience (57). They design some ads for men and others for women. Craig classifies men into two: “men’s men” and “women’s men” (59). He also classifies women into “women’s women” and “men’s women”. Men’s men are always preoccupied with heroism and achievement (60). They never worry about pleasing women (61). In the context of this advert, both men have the qualities of men’s men.

They do not do anything with the purpose of pleasing women. Women only play a supportive role. They wake their husbands up in the morning and cook for them. When the two men go to work, the women remain at home to attend to the domestic chores. The use of domineering men appeals to many men in the world. This effect is what the creator of the ad intended to achieve because men are the largest consumers of Coca Cola.


In conclusion, ads need to consider the desires, fears, identities and values of their target audiences. Knowing these aspects helps them manipulate their emotions and convince them to buy the products. The ad in this paper uses three main principles: the need for prominence, the need to achieve and the men’s men ideology. The need for prominence entails an individual’s desire to win the admiration and respect of other people.

On the other hand, the need to achieve entails striving to overcome certain difficulties in life and be better than other people. In this ad, a young man wants to live longer than all men in his generation. Therefore, he emulates the lifestyle of an old man whose lifestyle includes taking a bottle of Coca-Cola. In this context, long life is the goal the young man wants to achieve. The ad also uses men’s men as a way to appeal to men. Both men love success, and they work hard to achieve it. They do not worry about pleasing women.

This analysis is very significant as it helps identify the target audience and the appeals used for attracting probable buyers. The analysis also helps the audience understand the meaning of the ad, which helps improve the effectiveness of the ad. In addition, it helps the Coca-Cola Company measure the effectiveness of the ad. Hence, the company can improve where there is need for improvement.

Works Cited

Craig, Steve. Men’s Men and Women’s Men. [Pamphlet]. Print.

Egendorf, Laura K. Advertising. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Print.

Fowles, Jib 2014. Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals. Web.

Marchand, Roland 2014. The Parable of the Democracy of Goods. Web.

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