Media - Literacy - Close Analysis - Example & Rubric

Close Analysis Essay Example
Britney Spears, 30-second Pepsi commercial, 2002
For the 2002 Super Bowl, the Pepsi Corporation created a 30-second television
commercial featuring pop music star Britney Spears advertising the soft drink Pepsi.
While almost constantly showcasing the word “Pepsi” and its corporate logo on the
screen, Spears sings a song containing lyrics like “the right one, the modern light one”
and “for those who think young.” The music is a throwback to the 1950s with a cute
melody and simple jingles. To match the vintage sounds, the commercial is presented in
black-and-white and filmed in a diner filled with characters dressed in costumes from that
era. Spears bounces, dances and moves across the screen, always singing, always flirting
and always holding a Pepsi in her hand.
Individuality, conformity and freedom are the American values most prominently
featured in the advertisement. Dressed in white clothing that separates her from the
crowd, Spears is endlessly flirting with boys and then striding away from them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the characters—especially three young men dressed in identical
letterman’s sweaters—look uniform and simple. Throughout the 30 seconds, Spears’s
voice (a mixture of seductive and innocent) and her wardrobe (pants that seem tight and
risqué for the period) give her an air of personal freedom.
The creators of the message leave out many signs of life since 1958, which is the
setting for the commercial. The black and white images create a feeling of nostalgia.
Spears abandons her sultry dancing style of the recent years for moves that seem more instep with the mid-century. Pepsi’s old-time logo is used throughout the commercial,
except for one instance when the logo is shown in color near the commercial’s end. By
using these techniques, the creators recall a simpler time, especially for viewers who
lived during the 1950s.
These older viewers represent only one of the possible audiences. Many watchers
will perceive Spears as inappropriately sexual because of her media and musical image
outside of this commercial. While some might have their opinion changed by this
commercial, many more will likely remain disgusted with her as a celebrity. However,
other viewers might consider Spears to be “part of the mainstream” because of her
extensive media exposure. In contrast, a loyal young fan base would likely celebrate this
commercial to the point of taping it or memorizing the tune of the jingle. These fans will
relish any exposure Spears enjoys.
This commercial really is about Britney Spears. Her character in the commercial
creates nearly all of the messages that Pepsi intends for the viewer. Therefore, judging
the message is mostly a vote for or against her character. The commercial succeeds in
promoting individuality and freedom in mostly healthy ways with its vintage approach.
The fun, dancing environment of the diner seems safe. But the creators concentrate on
Spears’s sexuality in minor yet troubling ways. Her flirtatious gestures and seductive
voice could carry a harmful message about the road to success and popularity.