Chapter Four

The New Sound of Cola

Jazz Sells, Mark Laver, Grinnell

In this chapter, I turn to Pepsi Jazz, exploring how the relationship between the  brand, the campaign, jazz music, and jazz discourses come together to create  meaning—for the product, for consumers, and for jazz music. I focus on key tropes  of meaning at play in the 60-second spot: diversity, agency, and sexuality. First,  I propose that the spectacularization of ethnic and cultural diversity in the Pepsi  Jazz spot reflects PepsiCo’s overarching corporate emphasis on diversity in their  marketing and advertising, while at the same time playing with discourses of jazz  as a collaborative, syncretic, and democratic music. I draw on Albert Murray’s  influential collection of essays, “The Omni-Americans: Some Alternatives to the  Folklore of White Supremacy”, proposing that Pepsi positions “Jazz” as an Omni-American soft drink. Second, I address the significance of individual agency in the  advertisement. I use Michel de Certeau’s essay, “Walking In The City”, to examine  how the advertisement’s narrative and soundtrack work together to construct  the heroine’s individual agency in the ad, and to explore how her agency becomes  crucial to the demographic targeting of the “Pepsi Jazz” campaign. Finally, I  problematize the use of “indulgence” as a marketing theme, and argue that the  undoubtedly well-intentioned intersection of indulgence, agency, and diversity in  the Jazz ad is predicated upon some uncomfortable jazz discourses of race, sex, and  social deviance.

Pepsi Jazz television ad, 2006

“Pepsi Cola Hits the Spot” jingle, ca. 1940

“Be Sociable, Have a Pepsi” jingle, ca. 1953

“Now It’s Pepsi, For Those Who Think Young,” ca. 1963

Pepsi “Yo Sumo” campaign, 2010

Zatarain’s ad, 2014

Pepsi Jazz print ad from People Magazine, Oct. 16, 2006