Thanks to Richard Taub, who drew my attention to this spot, in a comment on a previous post. It's for Corona Light -- and it's the first one, according to Ad Age, that abandons the beach images for which the brand is famous. Instead, it stays in the city and features two rooftop dance parties:
In the Ad Age article I mentioned, Jim Sabia, a Marketing-VP involved with the brand, states that one of the goals of this spot is to build a seperate identity for Corona Light, by differentiating it from its more "beachy" parent brand. As Sabia puts it, "we want Corona to be on the beach and Corona Light to be a little more urban, a little more major market."
The Ad Age piece goes on to fill in a few details about the purpose and plot of the ad (called "Party Mashup") that I didn't pick up in my first viewing:
"In the ad, music from the casual celebration conflicts a more upscale party nearby. The tension is resolved when the two DJs...join their music together, which is meant to play on Corona Light's positioning as a premium/casual brand..."
The overall vibe of this spot reminds me of other beer commercials I've seen recently. There's a warm, social atmosphere -- much like the Heineken "Entrance Man" spot covered on this blog a few posts back. Corona shows its product enhancing a situation where people can relax for a moment about whatever social realities might separate them, and play creatively together. In short, it's got that mildly utopian feel I've see in lots of ads lately.
But even more interesting to me than the spot's content is the form. I'm thinking specifically of the "double-ness" of the images -- not one, but two rooftop parties are jammed into a mere 30 seconds.
And after the initial tension between them is resolved, it's as if their differences are erased -- and you could say they mirror each other in celebratory vibe and identity.
Stepping onto the Mirror Stage
This all reminded me of a theory I'd been reading up on lately, about how children form their identities. In one account of this process, famously invented by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the child starts to build a sense of self through internalizing imagery. Specificially, Lacan refers to the fascination which very young children exhibit when they discover their own images in mirrors (hence this period of development is referred to as "the Mirror Stage").
Lacan goes on to theorize that while the image in the mirror is the same as the child, it is also quite different. Bodies, especially those of the presumably less inhibited very young, are also an anarchic cacaphony of drives, pulsations and emotions.
As a result, Lacan thought that while such images were captivating and even erotic, once internalized, they could also be alienating -- making you doubt your identity as much as they helped you "imagine" it.
The theory also suggests that as a result of these inner images, when we grow older we're destined to be at war with ourselves -- for they form an "ideal ego" we can never live up to -- one that is always more "together" than we can possibly ever feel. And these feelings are enhanced and exacerbated as we internalize other "ideal" images we'd like to mirror (such as people we think are "together", or simply "cool" -- like celebrities).
Good Twin, Bad Twin
Musing about this theory, I wondered if the appeal of some ads was that their products heal, symbolically, such inner divisiveness. The initial tension between the rooftop images in the spot, after all, is soothed away -- by a common love of music, and of partying with Corona Light.
And what Corona does on a social level, others ads do on an individual one. Think of makeup ads. I remember one in which Drew Barrymore spoke about a Cover Girl product that would introduce you to "your skin's twin."
In light of Lacan's theory, I'd interpret that line in a double way. Of course, it means the makeup, that promises viewers (in other spots) a "more perfect you", blends nicely with whatever skin tone they have. But it also might be read as offering them kinship (if not "twinship") with an "ideal" image of someone as "cool and together" as a star like Barrymore.
Pop culture at large seems obsessed with the dual effect of identification/alienation such "mirror images" provoke. Think of all the movies that feature "the evil twin." The poster for the new TV show Ringer (starring Sarah Michelle Geller) says it all.
But the job of ads, of course, is to present scenarios and products that promise to pacify such conflicts (or at least keep them offstage). Thoughts?