Of course, new becomes old. Generations de-generate. And choice chooses something else.
So the choice of a new generation, the signature soda pop promoted by the signature pop culture agency, left New York not too long ago and joined a hip younger brother “duding” around in Venice, California: TBWA Chiat Day
BBDO began as Barton, Batten, Durstine & Osborne. A comedian of the time said the name sounded like a suitcase falling down the stairs. Along the way, the name morphed and evolved. They dropped the litany of two-syllabled names born of the Anglo-Saxon Transcendence. Then they lost the ampersand. With its streamlined architecture of anonymous letters BBDO (the voice of a new generation), led by short-of-stature but long-on-influence Phil Dusenberry, they launched Pepsi on the wave of youth culture and high production values.
In a massive and massively expensive insurrection, they laid siege at the barricades of the quintessential American brand: Coca Cola. If Coke was “IT”, well, “IT” meant old. If Coke had a venerated history, it meant Coke was your father’s sugar water. If Coke was as American as mom and front porches, well, that America was gone.
It may never have been formulated this way in the strategic documents of BBDO (or perhaps it was), but the agency sensed that myths were changing. Norman Rockwell America was passing, being replaced at warp speed by a media-driven, celebrity-obsessed culture.
In other words, adolescent America had won.
Archetypologist Clothaire Rapaille has long described the American cultural unconscious as an adolescent culture, with all the flips and foibles of adolescence: frenetic, attention-deficited, lacking fixed identity, continually seeking re-invention and renewal, devoid of history and tradition. And, because of this lack of self, obsessed with heroes and celebrities.
BBDO rode the youth culture wave, also known as the triumph of adolescent America. There is no history, the brand announced: only now. There is no geography: only a screen. There is no culture: just the ephemera of media-driven images. It was People magazine as brand. It was casting more than creativity. So there was Ray Charles, who of course was eternal. And, MC Hammer: less so. There was Michael Jackson’s hair on fire, probably the least of his problems. Cindy Crawford’s curvature. There was Paula Abdul, prior to her successful revival as a has-been. And Britney…
It is ludicrous, in light of today’s realities. They actually called it, without irony, “The Cola Wars.” But BBDO fought the fight of ephemera valiantly, till the young got older, people got healthier, and the economy got sicker.
Come alive, TBWA. You’re in the Pepsi generation.