Britney/Pepsi Update: Questions of Taste

There are two footnotes to last week’s deconstruction of the big Britney Spears Pepsi ad, in which Bob Dole’s new dirty old man persona was discussed. (The ad has moved here.) Several readers pointed out something in the spot that I had missed: Shortly after Dole makes his first appearance, the quick edits include a Pepsi bottle and a scoreboard representation of Pepsi bottles “blowing their tops.” Get it? Some readers gave Pepsi extra credit for this semi-subliminal maneuver—the “only sly and entertaining” thing in the ad, argued one reader (an actual doctor of psychiatry!). Fair enough, but it would take more than that to get us to change a grade here at the Ad Report Card.

The second footnote: Another reader alerted me to this document, which was posted on the admirable Smoking Gun Web site shortly after the Spears-Pepsi alliance was formalized. It’s a two-page contract rider with “technical specifications” for the Britney Spears World Tour 2000 and is dated last June. It includes backstage catering requirements for the star and the band, and many beverages are mentioned. Among them are Ocean Spray, Gatorade, Snapple, General Foods International Coffee, Mountain Dew, and Coke. It’s possible, of course, that “coke” is being used here (as is common in large swaths of the country) in the generic sense of “soda.” But in any case, Britney’s specific taste for Pepsi seems to be something she’s picked up fairly recently. On the plus side for Pepsi, she did ask for a two bags of Doritos (one cool ranch, one “Wow!” the rider says), a product of Pepsi’s Frito Lay subsidiary.