The TV commercial for Corona Extra that's been airing the past few months is a bit different than a lot of the other beer ads out there:
Targeted to a segment of the premium beer market, you don't see the male-oriented party animal approach you often do in spots for this product. Instead (with the exception of one shot), you get lots of upscale couples.
As a result, there's a dreamy, romantic feel to this spot. As Deborah Postrel puts it, "Grace, mystery, and escape -- all the elements of glamour are there." Postrel's blog, Deep Glamour, reveals this about the slogan:
"The 'Find Your Beach' ads visualize what Corona's ads have always implied (since most beer drinking doesn't take place at the beach): 'that the beach is where you make it,' as Marshall Ross, the chief creative officer for Corona's ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt, put it. 'We want to give literal, visual permission for people to take the Corona mindset with them. Even to the ski slopes or the big city.'"
Since I've been thinking a lot lately about the theory that the advertising unconscious is full of repressed, utopian wishes, when I first noticed the "Find Your Beach" line, I couldn't help but associate it with an older rallying cry.
During the protests in France associated with "Mai '68" -- protests which often put forth utopian demands -- one of the most famous slogans was: "Beneath the pavement, the beach." Here's a take on that line I got from the Brooklyn Views blog:
"The public beach - the epitome of undesignated non-utilitarian optimistic space - was the opposite of the street, an historic relic of an oppressive and cynical society based on private property."
Of course, the beaches in Corona ads don't remind you of any place you get to go for free. When I did research on the brand, in fact, I found that the beach imagery (which has appeared in Corona spots for years) was inspired by expensive vacation locales:
"For several years, Corona's American sales were sluggish. But during the mid-1980s, one of [the manufacturer's] two American distributors...struck on a clever marketing strategy: pitching Corona to young American beer drinkers, many of them veteran of spring break at Cancun or Cabo San Lucas."
But my linking of beaches and utopias isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Both are connected with "vacations" from everyday reality. And, historically, utopian literature has been associated with travel writing, as both usually describe encounters with "new and ideal worlds."
The website for the brand, in fact, introduces you to one of these "new worlds." It's a nation, invented by the brand, called the "Republic of Corona." Here's an introductory video that tells you what they believe in:
Brands as Utopian Kingdoms
What's interesting to me about this clip is how similar the "Republic of Corona" is to the nation covered in the last post -- Diesel (Jeans) Island. The ideologies of both discourage hype, embrace simplicity, and criticize advertising. Cars are merely what get you from A to B -- not the status/power/sex symbols our ads make them out to be. It doesn't matter what brand of jeans you wear. Politics is suspect -- as is the workaholic lifestyle.
In short, what you see is an almost brand, tech and even civilization-free zone. And in this way, the semantics here do share a bit with the "Mai '68" slogan. But there is, of course, a crucial difference.
The Corona slogan urges you to find your own beach. It's not something public. It's more internal-- a state of mind you can carry with you anywhere (especially with the aid of the brand). You don't need anything as dramatic as a revolution to escape all the branded things and experiences that drive you nuts about our society.
All you need is another brand. Or perhaps, as the they say in alkie parlance, "a hair of the dog that bit you."
In a hyper-commodified culture, it's not surprising to find a brand appealing to you by criticizing the act of branding itself. Or for leisure items (like jeans or beer) to communicate through images of idealized sorts of escape.
But nevertheless, from a cultural standpoint, campaigns like Corona's and Diesel's have me wondering if their criticism of their own medium might be read as a sign of growing fatigue around the whole ethos of our hype-oriented society.
And this leads to another question: is there a point at which people grow so stressed that tiny, private utopias like these are no longer enough? Thoughts?