Last year, Coke’s Super Bowl ad stepped in it. The ad celebrated the beauty of a multicultural, multilingual America. While a lot of people concurred, a lot of people did not. Coke’s Super Bowl ad drowned in controversy and never resurfaced.
This year Coke is on safer ground. The Internet is often a tool for spreading hate. Coke would like to help make the Internet a tool for spreading happiness. Absolutely noncontroversial.
Coke is one of those labels that changes the way the product tastes. It’s a change of taste that is not imaginary but real. The label changes the way the neurons fire. The Coke brand changes the chemistry of perception of sugar, caffeine, and water.
Coke ads accomplish this magical feat by changing viewers’ expectation of how it is going to feel to drink a Coke. There is no discussion of ingredients or thirst, just a dramatization of what the brand would like viewers to feel when they drink the product.
In a continuation of the Coke theme of “Open Happiness,” Coke tells a story about how the product might transform the Internet from antipathy to empathy, from hate to happiness. Coke enhances the expectation of drinking the product and, as a result, improves the experience. What we experience is due to the physical characteristics of the situation and our expectation. Enhanced expectation upgrades experience.
Just as the spilled Coke in the ad transforms the electrical impulses on the Internet, the ad itself transforms the electrical impulses that occur in our brains when we drink the product.