The ad that has assaulted my senses is the way the Diet Pepsi’s new can is promoted and the messages it implies. In the ad, one can clearly see a fame-fatale-like woman with a big blue hat and full red lips drinking, actually enjoying drinking from a can of the new, slimmer, pole-like silver Diet Pepsi can. There is a logo in the right of the picture, vertically written, saying “The new skinny can”, written in white, on a sky-blue background, with the word “new” in dark blue to emphasize the new product. The woman used in this ad is a rather skinny female model, based on her arm that is apparently too skinny compared to a normal-weight woman. One can actually see the bone structure of her arm. The purpose of the ad is clearly to promote Pepsi’s new product; however, the way they have chosen to do it insults everyone’s IQ.
The packaging of the product resembles to a pole, it is slimmer than the Pepsi cans we are used to, as of now. The chic and beautiful woman drinking the new Diet Pepsi is also too skinny, based on the parts of her body we can see in the ad. Therefore, the ad wants to pass on that a woman is attractive if only she is skinny, and of course drinking Diet Pepsi. What would happen if women started drinking excessive amounts of Diet Pepsi, just to be considered acceptable and attractive? What if they choose to replace meals with Diet Pepsi to become skinnier; hence more appealing, according to the new stereotype? What is teenage girls decided to start drinking Diet Pepsi instead of juice and milk, just to be slim? According to the FTC Policy Statement on Deception (1983), an ad is considered deceptive if it uses practices that “affect the consumer's conduct or decision with regard to a product or service” (Miller). In the particular ad, using a skinny model promoting a pole-like new beverage actually forwards the audience to drink the Diet Pepsi, so as to be socially accepted and regarded as attractive, which is perceived as a deliberate practice to mislead the ad’s audience.
The ad of the Diet Pepsi can gives false hopes (Moore), which is also unethical and deceptive. Of course, advertising lives where reason meets people’s desires, but in this case, we are dealing with subliminal advertising (Moore). Through a seemingly simple beverage ad, women are forwarded to embrace a new way of living that includes a “diet” product. Although products used in diets are supposed to be healthy, a Pepsi cannot considered healthy, any how one looks at it. However, the ad tries to persuade that it is perfectly okay to drink Pepsi as part of a healthy eating pattern.
The new Diet Pepsi, subconsciously promises a lean and attractive figure, which is nothing close to the truth. If women drink Diet Pepsi, it is highly unlikely they will end up thin and beautiful. The John Hopkins University (2007) has posted an article on advertising ethics, according to which if a product claims that it can do something that it actually cannot, it is considered a clear-cut case of deception (O’ Bar). In our case, the company is using deceptive advertising.
All in all, the ad on the pole-like can of Diet Pepsi promotes deceptive messages and subliminal, untrue, promises to women, and everybody wanting to look slim and beautiful. Moreover, it is assaulting to one’s IQ as it promotes an unhealthy habit and tries to pass it on as healthy. It may not actually say it loud, but there is an underlying message applied on all females, according to which a skinny body type is the most desirable and should be sought-after by all, which is unethical, no matter how one looks at it.
Miller, James (1983). “FTC POLICY STATEMENT ON DECEPTION”. Federal Trade Commission. Web. Oct. 10, 2013. < http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/policystmt/ad-decept.htm>
Moore, Chris (2004). “Ethics in Advertising”. Advertising Educational Foundation. Web. Oct. 10, 2013. < http://www.aef.com/on_campus/classroom/speaker_pres/data/3001>
O’ Bar, William (2007). “Advertising and Society Review: Ethics and Advertising”. Advertising Educational Foundation. Web. Oct. 10, 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/asr/v008/8.3unit13.html#O%27Barr>