As one of the most important and long-lasting components among branding strategy, advertising, incorporating symbolic cognition at multiple levels and is mediated in various forms and substrates, operates in a complicated socio-technical system.
The purpose of this paper is to show that the contemporary advertising follows the Peircean conceptual framework of type-token where the tokenization (i.e., creating perceptible representation), though being medium specific and variant, happens always under the umbrella of an invariant type (i.e., the theme of the advertisement which the advertisers intend to convey and correlate to the brand). By applying the conceptual framework of C.S. Pierce, Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin, MacRury Iain and Lev Manovich, I explain how the tokenization instantiated in terms of the type is being remediated based on different physical mediums and the cultural encyclopedia. I use Coca-Cola company’s advertising strategy under the campaign “Taste the Feeling” since 2016 as a case study, by analyzing how it presents distinctly on various physical mediums, how it incorporates the spirit of Rio Olympic into the brand and how it specifies the structure of the advertisement in terms of different countries or regions (i.e., in this paper, China and North America).
By using Coca-Cola company’s advertising strategy since it launched “Taste the Feeling” as its campaign and theme in 2016 as a case study, I explore and analyze how advertisements as tokens based on the type, i.e., Taste the Feeling is remediated via multiple physical mediums (e.g., television, outdoor, new media online) and by other movements or events (e.g., Olympic) and how the type according to which they are instantiated is invariant and re-enforced during the processes. Further, since audiences as semiotic agents have different cultural memories and knowledge which would affect their interpretation of semiotic representations, I would discuss how the influence of cultural encyclopedia as a hierarchal tree structure is embedded in the advertising processes.
Therefore, the main thesis of this essay is that while in advertising, the tokenization of advertisement can be re-tokened, re-instanced and re-mediated across different mediums (not just physical mediums but also every agency that mediate the tokenization), the type, or general genre of advertising (i.e., the theme per se), is invariant and re-enforced by the unlimited instantiations of tokenization.
In the first part of the paper, I select three advertisements on three different physical mediums, i.e., outdoor street billboard, television and online software application, I use C.S. Pierce’s triadic model of cognitive correlations and his conceptual framework of the three modes of signs to analyze how audiences select and perceive these features and conduct multi-level interpretations. Meanwhile, I also apply Mikhail Bakhtin’s idea of dialogism where the interpretation of message receiver is always involved in one’s dialogism with others, in this case, i.e., the physical context while perceiving the advertisement. I also combine Lev Manovich’s idea about new media’s being interactive and how such interactivity is involved in the generation of meaning as a ongoing dynamic event.
In the second part of the paper, I use the Rio Olympic campaign in 2016 as a context, by studying how different Olympic specified advertisements launched differently in China and North America, I combine C.S. Pierce’s conceptual framework and Roland Barthes’ legacy which still apply well in contemporary media and analyze how interpretation across multi-level is formed under the umbrella of cultural encyclopedia and how the spirit of Rio Olympic serves as an intertextual discourse which involves into the dialogism between itself and “Taste the Feeling” as the theme of Coca-Cola and how the advertisements combine these concepts together. I show that operating under the wave of Rio-Olympic, the theme “Taste of Feeling” (i.e., the type) is still invariant no matter how the tokenization is customized.
2. The tokenization across different media.
Coca-Cola starts a new round designing and distributing advertisements upon launching the new campaign “Taste the Feeling” in 2016. It maximizes the utilization of different mediums including traditional media such as television, cinema, outdoor and new media based on computing and internet.
“Coca-Cola is one brand with different variants, all of which share the same values and visual iconography. People want their Coca-Cola in different ways, but whichever one they want, they want a Coca-Cola brand with great taste and refreshment.” Says de Quinto, the Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola Announces New ‘One Brand’ Marketing Strategy and Global Campaign, 2016). “Taste the Feeling”, therefore, first relates the audiences to the feeling of the moment when they drink the Coca-Cola, i.e., delicious and refreshing, which thus requires the advertisers to accurately simulate such user-experience of the product itself. Besides, feeling itself could be interpreted differently in terms of different people and different scenes, in other words, different media presentations are scene specific and the tokenization, i.e., advertisement instantiated based on the concept “Taste the Feeling”, should also be designed in terms of different platforms. In the following subsections, I select a TV commercial, an outdoor street billboard and a customization-supported advertising app for analysis. As Irvine mentioned, meaning is always Remix+, the emergence of meaning always goes through the combinational and dialogic process where we select syntactically possible units in contexts of prior symbolic relations and encyclopedia values and re-contextualize the selected unit by embedding it in the compositional structure of the new expression, in other words, we are not only interpreting the advertisement itself, but also interacting with the context surrounding us where every element of the context could affect our interpretation of the token (Irvine, 2014, pp.21,29). However, no matter how the structure of the tokens changes depending on different situations, the core concept, i.e., “Taste the Feeling” is invariant.
I design a diagram to illustrate how the representation of the concept, i.e., in the figure, the object (invariant) is re-mediated depending on different physical mediums and how humans as semiotic agents’ interpretation of the perceptible representation of the object is influenced by the physical context.
Figure 1. Tokenization being medium specific
2.1 Street Billboard in front of commercial street
– Taste the Feeling of pursuing fashion and being relaxed through shopping.
Figure 2. The Coca-Cola Festival Bottle. (n.d.).
Above is an advertisement presented on a street billboard on a commercial street. At the top right corner of it are the logo of Coca-Cola and the “Taste the Feeling” slogan. The textualization of this advertisement is realized by using a picture of a beautiful girl in blonde hair holding a bottle of Coca-Cola, she is in a stylish fit and her nails are decently polished, she slightly turns her head left and laughs happily. Being presented on a commercial street, this advertisement is a mixture of iconic sign and symbolic sign. Since one of the designing ideas that advertisers follow to appeal to their consumers is by depicting people in advertisement like those consumers, or resembling the ideal that consumers aspired towards, the girl in this advertisement is an average ideal type of a lot of female potential consumers who the advertisers assume to be more likely the group of people shopping or hanging out at the commercial street (MacRury, 2008, p.173). The sign, on the other hand, is symbolic where by perceiving the dress style of the girl, consumer can easily connotate to beauty and healthiness (by her bronze skin and well-defined body shape). The surrounding environment contributes to the interpretation as well where the shopping malls, fashionable clothes and make-up suit all represent consumer’s pursuit of beauty and the whole experience of shopping itself represents a kind of feeling where the customers can leave stress behind them for an afternoon, enjoying shopping and pursuing beauty. Thus, by simulating users’ feeling of taking a break while shopping and enjoying their beauty, the advertisers thus instantiates a specific scene-based token which still represent the core concept, i.e., Taste the feeling (the feeling of being beauty, fashion, modern, healthy, relaxed, etc.).
2.2 Television commercial
– less limitation on time and more space for representing multiple kinds of feelings.
As another kind of traditional media, television, nevertheless, presents advertisement differently compared to street billboards (to be sure, the street billboards I mention here are the traditional street billboard instead of the fancy versions on, for example, Times Square) which presents visually static textualization. TV commercials, instead, are mostly motion picture sequenced featured by sound effect or music (most of the time theme song), while TV commercial have more space to represent the core concept compared to static traditional outdoor commercials, what is more challenging is how to make the frames well-organized and to match the image, sound, text simultaneously and at the same time to make sure the concept is well conveyed. In this case, the structure of the token, i.e., the advertisement presented on Television as media, is remediated.
This is a screen shot of a one-minute TV commercial that Coca-Cola published on March 2016 (Taste the Feeling, 2016). At the same time, Coca-Cola adds a line for explanation to emphasize what the commercial is trying to convey: there’s a coke for every feeling. The advertisement uses a sequence of scenes each of which is fitted with a text following a general mode: A with B, and in the next scene the B in the previous scene would become A’ where a B’ is generated matching with the visual motion image (e.g. Strangers with fire à fire with Coca-Cola).
The TV commercial, to some extent, is an integration of multiple street billboards where feelings of different people under different scenes are all simulated and put together. Such A with B model is a great example of a symbolic chain since according to C.S. Pierce, signs yield interpretants expressible in further signs in unlimited and open-ended chains or networks, this model utilize the time flexibility in TV commercial and is therefore able to convey as much tokens of feelings as time allows (Irvine, n.d., p.19). Besides, while advertisement texts are constructed with visual cues that imply an endless chain of meaning from which the viewer can choose some and ignore others, audiences’ interpretation of each scene is therefore guided by the textual narratives (Danesi, 2013, p.473).
The sound effects are also elements in the structure of the token (TV commercial) that are remediated by television as a medium. At the beginning of the commercial, the scene being displayed is the whole process of pouring Coca-Cola into a bottle containing ice featured with the sound effect of liquid falling onto the glass and pieces of ice crushing on each other. The whole scene could be explained as a reproduction of the prototype, i.e., customers conducting the whole process (i.e., pouring the Coke in reality) and such structure which enables the combination of sound and motion image sequence, is not feasible on other medias such as street billboard or traditional print media. However, what is still unchanged is the concept “Taste the Feeling”: each scene of the sequence in the commercial (e.g., hanging out with friends, having a crush on a stranger, playing games with family, etc.), no matter how authentic it is simulating specific feelings of customers in different cases, still goes back to the core concept where customers can taste, experience the feeling that Coca-Cola brings them.
2.3 interactive advertising app
– Taste the feeling of customizing your meta-feeling
“Taste the Feeling” launches at a time when computing and internet-based technology is growingly becoming matured. New media, as a convergence of two separate historical trajectories: computing and media technologies, thus is a necessary interactive platform to confront contemporary potential customers (lev Manovich, 2001, p.20). Unlike traditional media where the order of presentation is fixed, the user can now interact with a media object (lev Manovich, 2001, p.49). Thus, the tokenization of the feeling that need to be instantiated could be remediated and redefined through interactive mediums.
Figure 3. Yi Se Lie Ke Kou Ke Le Hu Dong Guang Gao Pai-Zi Ding Yi Hu Wai Guang Gao (2013).
Above is a real time customizable advertising app launched in Israel. User can imagine whoever or whatever that fits in the blank in the sentence “Share a coke with __”. When customers walk closer to the screen, the customized advertisement will thus be displayed.
This advertisement on new media thus provides multiple tokens of feeling that customers could taste and relate to the taste of Coca-Cola. The literal message conveyed from the sentence thus provides a hint for customers to experience the feeling of sharing coke with friends, lovers, family or strangers. The textualization incorporates the purpose of advertisement, i.e., attracting the customers, guiding them to generate positive attitude towards the product, turning such attitude to purchasing behavior, stimulating repeatable behavior and eventually letting them to persuade other surrounding people to purchase as well. By correlate Coca-Cola to the feeling of sharing, therefore, the advertisers embed such correlation into customers’ memory.
New media, by being interactive, remediates the tokenization of “Taste the Feeling”. Instead of guiding user’s interpretation by fixed presentation, it puts user into a dialogism with the advertisement where meaning, as an event, is mutually stimulated. Thus, customers can also experience the feeling of self-defining and producing the feeling, in other words, the meta-feeling.
3. Taste the feeling under the umbrella of cultural encyclopedia
– Coke incorporating all kinds of feeling in Olympic
Advertisement is one of the most important ways to transfer a product into a brand. Earlier in the 20th century, Roland Barthes has brought the idea of myth onto table where he argued that myth is a type of speech defined by its intention much more than by its literal sense (Barthes, 2006, p.265). While in a language, the sign is arbitrary and unmotivated, the mythical signification, on the other hand, is never arbitrary, it is always in part motivated, and unavoidably contains some analogy (Barthes, 2006, p.266). He pointed out the idea of literal message, i.e., the product of denotation and cultural message, i.e., the connotation in his work rhetoric of the image where by such intention of the information transmitter, the reader, or the receiver, could choose some and ignore others among all the perceptible information (Barthes, n.d., p.516).
Barthes’s idea is widely used in multiple field including politics, films, advertisement, etc. at that time and in contemporary media as well. To convey the idea of a brand, the negotiation between brand maker and brand user is crucial, a main purpose of such brand communication, according to Thellefsen, is creating symmetry (Thellefsen et al., 2013, p.486).
The following diagram shows the structure to be followed under the purpose of creating symmetry.
Figure 4. Creating Symmetry between brand maker and brand user. (Thellefsen et al., 2013, p.486).
The intersection node of the triadic model indicates a shared cultural background, or memory between the target community and the brand maker’s intention and expectation (Thellefsen et al., 2013, p.486). As the context and background knowledge is crucial here, Barthes’ earlier idea which mostly utilized Saussure’s model (i.e., the signified and signifier) is better to be incorporated into C.S. Pierce’s model where he brought the third element, i.e., the interpretant which is the sense made of the sign and the acknowledgement that correlates the representamen and object. Pierce’s model provides a dynamic continuum through the meaning generation which is operated under the cultural encyclopedia, i.e., a system of culturally organized meanings and values, codes, genres and symbolic association (Irvine, 2014, pp.20,25).
In the following paragraphs, I would use Coca-Cola’s advertising strategy during Rio Olympic in 2016 as a case study where I would focus on two points: first, by comparing the difference of the structure of the advertisement such as the usage of image, the extra textual narratives as tokens in America and China, I analyze how the advertisers expect and involve the advertisement into the interpretation of target community across multi-levels, i.e., the immediate, dynamic and final interpretants generation (Irvine, n.d., p.1); Second, I demonstrate that the discourse formed around the spirit of Olympic becomes a intertextual one, itself, together with the theme of Coca-Cola since 2016, i.e., Taste the Feeling, generates a dialogism which deeply influence the instantiation of the tokens in terms of the theme and how the spirit of Olympic remediates the tokenization representing the theme “Taste the Feeling” and how the theme is still invariant though being represented by different tokens during this special time period. In terms of the analysis of customers’ interpretation processes, Dr. Irvine’s diagram for the outline of semiotic models for kinds and levels of interpreted Meanings is a great model to apply (Irvine, n.d., p.1).
Figure 5. Peirce’s model of material-cognitive correlations for semiotic substrates. (Irvine, n.d., p.1).
3.1 “此刻是金”, Chinese advertisement during Rio Olympic, 2016.
– Coca-Cola China embracing Chinese audiences’ feeling of Rio Olympic
“此刻是金”, namely, gold is this moment, is the slogan defined during Rio Olympic, 2016 for the marketing strategy among China. The literal message that gold convey, in this case, is gold medal and success which are provided by the context under the Olympic period. “this moment”, on the other hand, relates customers to every moment in their daily lives. By correlating “gold” to “this moment”, the advertisers thus start with the moment of success in everyday lives that people can easily relate themselves to and brings the spirit of Olympic to customers no matter how ordinary they think they are (besides, the advertisers also intend to convey that no matter you are celebrities or ordinary people, you always have something in common, i.e., the ordinary but meaningful and special moment).
Considering how the advertisement could stimulate the symmetry through the negotiation with customers, it is important to understand what it is that matters to Chinese audiences. While in Chinese culture, family and collectivism are two of the most important ideologies. Such cultural knowledge where staying close to your family, friends, colleagues, etc., helping each other, valuing corporation and being supportive and caring are considered ethical is embedded in everyone’s cultural memory since they are educated so from the first day when they went to school. Therefore, relating those successful but ordinary moment to family and friends is an easy way to stimulate the emotional symmetry among the Chinese audiences.
Figure 6. Ke Kou Ke le Sheng Wen Ci Ke Shi Jin. (2016).
The picture is a series surrounding the theme “Gold is this moment” where each one is featured by three scenarios and a text illustration. In the first section, the instances that we can immediately perceive are the logo of Coca-Cola, and the Olympic logo which displays five parallel lines each of which has one of the color of the Olympic rings, the major image where a girl is smiling while hugging a man, behind whom is a man who is clapping his hands, the textual narrative which says “gold is the tears of your proud family” and two other images the first of which is a man holding tightly some stuffs and looking at them and the second of which is two women hugging each other head to head. From these physical substrates we are thus able to form our first level symbolic recognition (according to Dr. Irvine, the recognitions generated at this level are the immediate interpretants): this is an advertisement of Coca-Cola and it is related to Olympic, the one that is hugging with the girl is her family and the one behind her clapping his hands is someone that is congratulating her success, the two other images could be relate to the same pattern with the help of the textual narrative, i.e., the success of someone and the proud family behind the person (Irvine, n.d., p.4). The output of our first code correlation selections for recognition then enables us to move on to the next level of interpretation, which, if we relate back to Barthes’s idea, is the process of connotation which generates the cultural message where we select additional code correlations to larger genre and meaning categories, the cultural and social values we live in and experience everyday that are deeply embedded in our cultural memory thus enables us to understand what the advertisers intended to convey and what’s the ideology behind and how it relates to the brand per se (Barthes, n.d., p.155; Irvine, n.d., p.4). While China is highly influenced by the Confucian culture where family is a crucial part which treasures harmony and morality, the three scenarios thus relate many Chinese people to their own memories when their parents get up early every morning cooking them breakfast, take them to school, interest-oriented classes, auditions, competitions, etc. or stay up late with them when they are preparing for big exams. The daily narratives such as no matter who you are, how bitter your life tastes, how struggle you are pursuing your own dream, the family is always behind you, supporting you and never leave you and your success or failure is never just belonging to yourself are also very common in China and are considered as “小确幸” (i.e., ordinary but real happiness) for Chinese people. Thus, Chinese people can interpret the advertisement in such way that the spirit of Olympic is not just success itself, but also the family behind you and such interpretation can easily invoke their emotion symmetry and thus relate the value of Coca-Cola as a brand to such cultural ideology.
In a similar way, the second section, with the textual narratives “gold is the encouragement behind success” and the major image where the pianist Lang Lang is practicing piano with his tutor behind. The advertiser, in this section, intends to convey the cultural ideologies that a good student need to honor and respect one’s teacher and a good teacher needs to treat one’s students as if they are one’s children. Coca-Cola, in this case, extend the meaning of gold into virtue and goodness and relates the brand onto it.
The third textual narratives, i.e., gold is the gesture of cheering up among brothers, (to be sure, brothers don’t necessarily mean siblings in China, it could also refer to good friends, colleagues, etc.), it provides hint to guide the readers’ interpretation of the three images where in the major image, the guy behind the camera gives a thumbs-up gesture to his brother. In the second picture, there are co-workers gathering together celebrating their project and in the third picture, there is a guy (to be sure, we can’t tell directly from the image but from the narratives we know that this is a male instead of a female) in his helmet riding a motor. This section is a contemporary token of the collectivism as a cultural ideology where people value the virtue of working or simply hanging out in a team.
These sections use both celebrities and ordinary people as the characters where both the successful moments of ordinary people and the ordinary moment of successful people are shown in the series. This thus refer to another cultural ideology or virtue in China where people believe and treasure the ordinary people for being hardworking and successful in their own fields. By defining the intersection between the connotation of Olympic to success and every customer’s own moment of working hard to achieve their own success, Coca-Cola therefore establishes a firm bond among Chinese audience during the Rio Olympic period.
3.2 “THATSGOLD”, the advertisement launched in North America during Rio Olympic 2016.
– Taste the unbeatable feeling of Rio in North America
Figure 7. Coca-Cola North America athletes Ashton Eaton and Alex Morgan feature in the #ThatsGold campaign. (2016).
Figure 8. How Coca-Cola Is Activating Its #ThatsGold Campaign for Rio 2016. (2016).
Above are two advertisements launched across America during Rio Olympic 2016. The two advertisements follow similar pattern structuring the advertisement where in there is a logo of Coca-Cola at the left-top corner, five parallel lines featuring the five colors of Olympic rings, the slogan THATSGOLD and a textual narratives at the right-bottom corner and the image of athletes on different scenarios (there is still a slight difference where the first advertisement adds the overall theme “Taste the Feeling” below the logo but since all those advertisement during the Olympic period are designed under the umbrella, this slight difference can thus ignored in the following explanation).
The first advertisement offers us the immediate physical instances including two athletic athletes (i.e., Alex Morgan, a key member of the U.S. Women’s National Team that won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and Ashton Eaton, a gold medalist in men’s decathlon at the London 2012 Olympic Games) with big smiles holding Coca-Cola in glass bottles, bright sunny day, grass and the Olympic rings behind them (Coca-Cola Goes for Gold in Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Global #ThatsGold Campaign, 2016). The textual narrative, i.e., unbeatable taste is a pun which refers to both the taste of being unbeatable in the competition as a champion and the unique, best taste of Coca-Cola as a beverage as well.
The image of the second advertisement selects a swimming pool as a background where Nathan Adrian, the “Fastest Man in the Pool” who amassed three Olympic gold medals and seven World Championship golds since 2008, holding a glass bottle of Coca-Cola, is celebrating with another swimmer after finishing a training or competition, sending up pearly spray (Coca-Cola Goes for Gold in Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Global #ThatsGold Campaign, 2016). The textual narratives “A refreshing finish” refers both to the feeling of finishing a round of swimming and to the feeling of refreshment by drinking Coca-Cola.
Unlike the Chinese advertising series where the advertisers select both celebrities (i.e., Lang Lang, Yang Sun, Ting Zhu) and ordinary people as the characters, the campaign launched in North America incorporates an elite group of five Team USA athletes and hopefuls and an Olympic legend who have won a total of more than 20 Olympic medals, including nine gold: Alex Morgan, Ashton Eaton, Tatyana McFadden, Nathan Adrian, Leo Manzano and Nastia Liukin (Coca-Cola Goes for Gold in Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Global #ThatsGold Campaign, 2016). Since these athletes are well-known in America, American audiences can thus immediately select these characters as features and refer to energy, refreshment, championship at the first level as literal message and then generate connotation which refers to patriotism and nationalism as cultural message.
The following is a table comparing the advertisement series between North American version and Chinese version in terms of Pierce’s model of material-cognitive correlations for semiotic substrates. (To be sure, I explained the previous cases with the concept denotation and connotation which are based on Saussure’s static sign model just for corresponding to some resources I refer to, but I’m still applying Peirce’s triadic model to them).
|First level correlation||Second level correlation|
|R (only visual elements are analyzed due to space limitation, but textual narratives are also crucial)||O||I||R’||O’||I’ (The next level would correlate the I’ to Coca-Cola)|
|Family affection, special moments of ordinary people||
|Familism, collectivism||Chinese culture|
|Energy, brightness, refreshment,
Table 1: Comparison between Chinese version and North American version.
3.3 Taste the Feeling of Olympic: make the invariant theme special under the Olympic campaign
How do advertisers enable people to relate Coca-Cola immediately to “Taste the Feeling”? According to Lencastre, the brand makers turn a product into a brand by adding augmented identity (e.g., slogans, labels, mascots, iconic signs, etc.) beyond the core identity and actual identity of the product per se (Lencastre, 2013, pp.493-494). Advertisement, thus follows the Peircian principles of firstness, secondness and thirdness where the thirdness is the repeated interpretation in space and time of the relationship between the immediate stimuli and the objects (a process of recognition, short-term memory to long-term memory), in other words, to immediately correspond the product to the brand and the brand to its value profile by such repetition (Thellefsen et al., 2013, p.565). By branding and advertising, the brand makers and advertisers thus want to create an emotional filter for the product which is intended to create an emotional state in the brand user mirrored in the product, so that product become a cognitive-symbolic habit of interpretation (Thellefsen et al., 2013, p.563). Therefore, for Coca-Cola as product since 2016, the value profile that Coca-Cola company wants to build on it would be every kind of feeling customers could imagine presenting on the slogan “Taste the Feeling”. The propaganda team thus emphasize that every moment for everyone could be made special by drinking Coca-Cola. In this case, certain periods, spaces, events, movements, etc., all become parts of the “every moment for everyone”. “Taste the feeling”, according to Peirce, is the invariant type that could be instantiated infinitely based on different scenarios. The Rio Olympic campaign, is thus a setting of one of the tokens of the type where the spirit of Olympic itself serves as a medium that could remediate audiences’ interpretation of the feeling of tasting Coca-Cola.
Figure 9. The tokenization of “Taste the Feeling” under Rio Olympic 2016 campaign.
Above is my explanation of how advertisers instantiate “Taste the Feeling” as a type under Rio Olympic 2016 as a context for generating tokens and relate the value to Coca-Cola both as a product and as a brand. Taking Coca-Cola and Olympic as two objects to analyze, the advertisers would stand on the potential customers’ viewpoint to generate multi-level interpretations based on these two objects and the concepts extended from them, i.e., the series of signs from “Taste the Feeling” of Coca-Cola and the spirit of Olympic of Rio 2016. While the customers retrieve their memories for interpretation which relies on the social-cultural context they live, advertisers need to define socio-cultural specific values as symbols that may stimulate the emotion symmetry among customers and simulate their feelings as prototypes, thus based on different countries or regions (here the example is China and North America), advertisers generate different elements that would relate audiences to their context specific interpretation of the Olympic spirit and feelings (to be sure, this does not happen purely sequentially, different levels of signs of Coca-Cola on the left and Olympic on the right actually form a network where each node can be a source of otherness that involves intertextually into the dialogism and affect the reader’s perception and interpretation of other nodes simultaneously and dynamically). Finally, among those signs, advertisers thus are able to find the intersection by which they can generate new augmented identity around Coca-Cola under the umbrella of the Olympic campaign.
Whenever you drink a bottle of Coca-Cola, you are never merely drinking, or tasting the coke itself. Every single part of the whole propaganda chain behind that is highly symbolic.
I demonstrate in the Coca-Cola example that the invariant type in the advertisement can be instantiated infinitely depending on different mediums (to be sure, the mediums here include not only physical mediums such as television, print, but also anything that can mediate and remediate the tokenization including different scenarios, movements, historical-socio-cultural context, etc.).
The first part of the paper demonstrate that different physical mediums remediate the tokenization in terms of an invariant type, In the example of Coca-Cola, the invariant type is “Taste the Feeling” which can be instantiated infinitely. I explained that the advertisers simulate the feeling that customers would experience medium specifically and realize the theme “Taste the Feeling” by various means and platforms. However, no matter how the structures of the tokenization are remediated depending on various physical mediums, the intention to correlate customers the feeling drinking Coca-Cola to every special moment they experience is not changed, but even repeated and re-emphasized.
I use Rio Olympic in 2016 in the second part of the paper as a context which remediates the tokenization of the advertisement to incorporate the spirit of Olympic. By applying C.S. Pierce’s triadic model which could be further expanded to dynamic and multi-level interpretation, I consider cultural encyclopedia as an umbrella that is not ignorable in customers’ interpretation of the advertisement. I compare the advertisement launched in North America and China by analyzing how cultural value and memory are imbued into different versions of advertisement under Olympic campaign. I finally concluded that cultural context and specific campaign are also mediums that remediate, retokenize and re-instantiates the tokenization of the theme, however, “Taste the Feeling” is always the type that is never changed no matter how the advertisements vary.
Advertising, of course, is just one element on the whole brand wheel, i.e., from the name, logo, slogan-jingle, to the textualization which put the real advertisement onto the table, and finally the design of the package of the product (Danesi, 2013, p.465). And the design of every “department” on this brand wheel, can be considered as the tokenization which could be instantiated without limitation following the general rule of the type. One of the limitation in this paper is that we don’t have enough space to talk about the tokenization in the whole brand wheel. Besides, I only use space (i.e., China and North America) as the variance to talk about how multi-level interpreted meanings are generated under the culture encyclopedia, but since the cultural context not only various across regions but also changes dynamically through time, to explore how such tokenization along the time line would make the research more comprehensive.
Further, the translation of slogan in different countries can also be explored deeply in the future research. From the phonology, morphonology, to the management of lexicon and syntax, to semantics and pragmatic restricted by cultural context (e.g. different idiom works differently depending on the country or region), etc., are worth exploring in the future research.
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