Volume 93, Issue 60

Tuesday, January 18, 2000


U of T cuts TAs' classes

Law school ups average in national magazine poll

Quicker than a ray of light

Fund-raising up to par, but stadium remains unnamed

Western crimes still conventional

Coke's advertisements a sign of changing times


Coke's advertisements a sign of changing times

By Nina Chiarelli and Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

The Coca Cola Company's latest television advertisement has chosen to literally change with the Canadian political climate, according to several Western professors who claim the ad has fallen victim to politics.

The soft drink company's latest television commercial portrays children playing hockey on a frozen pond, while a young girl sings "O Canada."

However, in Québec, the commercial excludes the national anthem altogether, opting instead to have the young girl score a goal and end with congratulations from her teammates.

Ian Brodie, a political science professor at Western, said the anthemless advertisement which runs in Québec is simply part-in-parcel of the targeted marketing plans which businesses use to score points with consumers. "Coca-Cola federalism is like Canadian federalism. They can choose to run ads differently in different provinces. [Coke is] trying to sell a product," he said. "Obviously, they're more committed to hockey in Québec than they are to Canada."

Brodie added this is not the only instance where national advertisements differ in content depending on the region in which they air. "In the last federal election, the Reform party ran different ads in Ontario than they did in Québec," he said.

Marketing companies have stopped a nearly 35 year practice of literal translation of English to French in their advertisements, Brodie said, since the often misinterpreted results had negative impacts for the products. It is now common practice for companies to tailor their ads specifically for different parts of the country, be it the French in Québec, or farmers in rural western Canada, he said.

"Québecers are not of one voice, but advertisers do not want to turn some people off," said Roderic Beaujot, a sociology professor at Western.

He explained the exclusion of the anthem could most likely be attributed to the political sentiments in the region.

Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the faculty of information and media studies, said the company's decision not to use the national anthem may, however, have been a good thing.

"Global companies like Coke have, in the past, made huge mistakes when dealing with national and cultural differences," he said, citing a former advertisement for the Chevrolet Nova, an automobile which did not sell well in Spanish speaking countries because "Nova" translates to "does not move."

"After all, [Coke] is in the business to appeal to audiences to consider their products over others. They do not want to hurt any local sentiment, whether economic, political or cultural," Pendakur said.

Brodie agreed. "There has to be some kind of compromise with their ads," he said of Coke. "I don't think it has any real political significance."

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