The influence of psychology on advertising goes back a long way. From Gallup polling (which gave David Ogilvy his first break into media after arriving in the US as an emigré kitchen appliance salesman in 1938*) to the prevalence of planners in contemporary ad agencies. Along the way there have been forays into industrial behavioural psychology - like the famous case where, in 1911, Coca-Cola wheeled in Harry Hollingworth** to prove that the caffeine in Coke wasn't dangerous to the health of workers (he showed it wasn't with some pretty fancy trials that were credible and independent but they weren't what got the case thrown out). But on the subject of caffeine and Coca Cola here's an ad to ponder for the Mother Brand - marketed in New Zealand and Australia by the mother ship - Coca Cola.
…Giant cocks in your bedroom, mothers, eagles…you'd have to get up early in the morning to beat Freud to the punch on the analysis of this little materpiece (oops Fruedian slip - masterpiece). The giant chickens I am ok with - Mother momentarily vanquished V in NZ by introducing 500ml cans (because who doesn't want half a litre of caffeine and sugar and magic berries in one serving) so grande has been an integral part of their strategy. Quite how you'd get one of those mini dinosaurs into your Aga oven is a question for another day. But note the final shot when our Mook strides heroically to the face the day with a gigantic Golden Eagle on his arm. What does this all mean? How can we decode it? Giant roosters, eagles…energy drinks.
I'll just get my lab coat, clip board and electrodes…
The oversize chickens need to placed in context. Man asleep on top of bed. Fully clothed. We can only assume it was a big night. Man is alone, it is reasonable to assume that it was 'a big night', though not one of sexual conquest (fully clad, alone - though this is an assumption and the facts relating to it are not in evidence). The chickens have come home to roost though i.e. a big night out drinking will be followed by a mother of a hangover. It is reasonable to assume the hero, if I might assign this slightly ironic appellation, understands this universal law of cause and effect - because he has a beer fridge in his bedroom and it contains a jumbo can of Mother energy drink. Like the room, the fridge is impeccably clean, not a mouldy, half-eaten sandwich in sight. Why his mother tolerates his late night shenanigans is anybody's guess. As an aside, in case we think he is a complete loser a vintage guitar is magnificently displayed in the corner of his room - to suggest he is single and attractive to women (don't ask me how I arrived at that conclusion, psychology is a dark art and if things were obvious to everybody everybody would be doing it - but let's just say: if it were a set of drums the conclusion would be different).
Having consumed some of the drink we see our man transformed, showered, shaved, besuited, striding forth- with a giant raptor on his arm. It is safe to conclude that he doesn't have a large aviary at home and that the birds are symbolic. The dawn chorus of roosters have morphed into a Golden Eagle - eagles symbolise journeys of flight that open up new vista or perception and dimensions of awareness and the ability to look at things with new eyes. Just Like Mother Revive 'with caffeine, tea and yoga matté/moga latté (?)'. The eagle eyed among you with have spotted that Mother's competitor, the big daddy of the energy drink world, 'gives you wings'. Though their brand totem is a bull - which represents (depending on your culture) virility, strength, stamina, confidence, fertility and determination. Our hero certainly exudes all of these masterly traits. But I am left with one niggling doubt: I hope his consumption of half a liter of caffeine, sugar and magic berries has worked their magic on his negotiating skills. He'll need them to get that thing past the bus driver.
One for the road.
Concluding our foray into magical realm of animism, archetype and advertising let me leave you with this mini masterpiece from McCoy's crisps. In my analysis I can only conclude that it is just plain weird. "Your friends are not your friends'? 'Get your share." "Inner Tiger"… I'll leave it to you to infer what you will. Inferior or superior?
* Sticklers for detail will know that David Ogilvy actually had a job with the agency Mather & Crowther where his brother Francis has secured him a position after showing management the famous sales manual D. Ogilvy had written for AGA cookers (presumably) during lonely nights on the road.
** The tale is quite interesting - Read:
Pop psychology: The man who saved Coca-ColaOne hundred years ago, this psychologist launched his career by researching the effects the popular beverage had on people's motor skills and cognitive abilities.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.