About this advert
Coca-Cola 'Grand Theft Auto'
2 April, 2008
After spending more than a year shuffling around the internet, being e-mailed from geek to nerd and back to geek again, the Coca-Cola 'Grand Theft Auto' commercial has finally made it onto British television. nIn the hope of reaching that notoriously 'hard to get at' market (the ones whose hands have become deformed by spending all day and most of the night in their bedrooms, waggling their game controllers), the nice people at Coca-Cola have adapted their standard core message of 'peace, love, social inclusion and buy our wretched fizzy drink' to the idiom of one of the most violence-orientated games currently in the mainstream market. nIt's a tribute to the growing strength of the 'Grand Theft Auto' brand, that the commercial is perceived to have an appeal beyond the esoteric corners of the internet where it has lurked for the last few months. (Cue the ingenue observation about not recognising the GTA reference.) nSo what is this text telling us about the Coca-Cola brand? That in Downtown Beat'em-ups-ville when you tire of the car chases and killings you can rejuvenate yourself with a Coke, ready for the next random act of violence? Or that Coca-Cola has magical properties to convert the baddest badass into some loving, caring, metrosexual homeboy? Either way, the significance goes beyond the rather irksome Lara Croft references in the Lucozade advertisements, the point here is that common knowledge of the computer game narrative is considered sufficiently far-reaching that it can be parodied like 'The Great Escape', 'From Russia With Love' or all those Hitchcock films in the Freixenet ad. nWhat next? - I suggest a 'Manhunt 2' parody in which Hamburglar is hacked to death with a Cheese Double Whopper, only to be reincarnated as My Little Pony as part of a two-for-one drinks promotion. nForget Super Mario and the dopey hedgehog, this is the cultural artefact which finally recognises the significance of the computer game as a textual reference-point, and in so doing has added something memorable to the frankly rather tired Coca-Cola 'brand values'. n"Always look on the Coke side of life de-dum de-dum-de-dum-de-dum..." n
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