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Feast-er your eyes on this vintage Coca-Cola advertisement from 1958:
I learned from Alice in Wonderland not to trust any grinning white rabbits.
But I'd still drink his Coke.
Cherry Coke finally reached China last month, and Coca-Cola promoted its launch with cans featuring a caricature of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Stop and think about that. If you put Warren Buffett's face on something in America, no one would even know who the hell he was. ("Steve Martin sure got old!") Name one person from China whose face might influence you to buy a product. Take your time. I'll wait.
The reason I mention this is not to denigrate Americans — they don't need me for that; they're doing so well themselves — is because of how Bloomberg News reported it.
At his company's annual meeting last year, [Buffett] said his happiness from drinking soda outweighs health benefits from eating more vegetables.
That must have been painful to publish. Bloomberg's founder and owner, Michael Bloomberg, is behind the nationwide push to tax sodas. According to Warren Buffett, that's the same as taxing happiness. (I bet nobody's taxing broccoli.) Whose word are you going to take for that? I know who the Chinese trust.
Science backs up Bloomberg. Sugar overconsumption is a nationwide problem. However, I doubt anyone with a net worth of $75 billion worries much about healthcare. But then, neither do the Chinese, 95% of whom have basic health insurance coverage. That just one more thing they're doing better than us.
So drink up, China. You can afford it, and America sure could use the help.
Ok, so I've had a lot of time to watch movies in December. This batch is the second five (of fifteenish), and I'll have at least one more wrap up to go.
110. (1048.) The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
Apparently, this weird romance/crime noir hybrid is best known as Kirk Douglas' first movie role. He plays a sniveling leech, not the sort of role he would become known for. I have to say, he was pretty damn good, even at the beginning of his career.
111. (1049.) Funeral in Berlin (1966)
This is the second of the Harry Palmer spy movies featuring Michael Caine. (Palmer is far more believable than James Bond. When the woman comes on to him, he realizes she has to be a plant. Because who would come on to him?) Of the three made in the 60s, I think this one is the best of the bunch, though it does make "British Intelligence" an oxymoron. (The Soviet plan is obvious almost as soon as Colonel Stok is introduced.)
112. (1050.) Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
The third and final theatrical Harry Palmer movie (there were two more made for television in the 1990s) is the weakest I've seen by far. It strays too far into James Bond territory with a ridiculous villain in his own army and hidden lair. With everyone behaving so bizarrely, I often found myself cheering for Colonel Stok, the loyal Soviet returning from Funeral in Berlin. (It wasn't his funeral.) This was not the right direction for this franchise.
113. (1051.) Quintet (1979)
I admit that I watched this because it was a Robert Altman sci-fi movie, and I wanted to see how his near religious devotion to film realism (and Paul Newman) would translate to a dystopian environment. Surprisingly, it was that realism that elevated this material above its Buck Rogers-style plot whose moral is "life sucks, don't play." Wow. Thanks for that.
114. (1052.) Head (1968)
I was charmed by this, the only feature film starring The Monkees. It's incredibly endearing to see them try so damn hard to bite the hands that created them. There's a lot of fun and insightful stuff here (proudly penned in part by Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson)), including great use of Coca-Cola product placement in a metaphor for the market forces that created The Monkees for mass market consumption. Sadly, because it's not paced well, long stretches of this film can be a bit of a dull watch. I recommend liberal use of the fast forward button.
More to come.
I spent my Mother's Day people watching with Mom at the Georgia Renaissance Festival today. Although it was her suggestion to go, I think Mom was initially lukewarm on the idea. She warmed up after we got to the park and she started people watching. There sure are a lot of people who enjoy dressing in the fashions of 16th-century Europe. Lots of fellows wore codpieces, and there were more moms than I would have guessed who enjoy the opportunity to push a stroller while wearing hide corsets and leather bras.
Mom spent most of the day browsing through vendors' tents filled with bronze water fountains, incense, parasols, swords, and jewelry. However, more than anything else, I think what Mom was most excited about was the pointed plastic ears that so many children and cosplayers were wearing. The quality of the pointed Elf ears available at the festival were a cut above the cheap Mr. Spock ears I've seen on Star Trek fans in years past. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that some of them were real Vulcans.
Mom and I watched a joust, a singing duo, and a fire-juggling balancing act, but the real highlight of the day was the birds of prey demonstration by Steve Hoddy of EarthQuest. According to their website, Hoddy's organization will be making an appearance at the Coweta County Fair in September. Mom has already put that on her event calendar.
Despite Mom's interest in the raptor show, I think she spent more time watching the super-fit gentleman charged with pushing the dragon swing. There seemed to be a steady line of women interested in taking a ride (for their children's sake, of course). Mom and I giggled like school children when two particularly large women paid for a ride. Poor guy, although I guess he didn't build all those muscles by pushing kids around.
By the way, I was tickled pink to see that the festival still offers "The King's Wiener," a foot-long hot dog I first saw at the festival 7 years ago. I still didn't eat one, mind you. I just like to look.
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Coca-Cola has a new direction. After eight years of "Open Happiness," we're now told to "Taste the Feeling."
Sales have been slumping lately, so Coke is obviously making an effort to be more inclusive. Happiness alone wasn't cutting it, so the company is opening the door to sadness, anger, embarrassment, and fear. Gotta taste 'em all!
The message here appears to be "Coca-Cola will take the edge off." Isn't that exactly how they used to market cigarettes?
I'm not comfortable with that.
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The New York Times reports that Coca-Cola is funding scientists who claim that the American diet, including sugary soft drinks, is not to blame for skyrocketing obesity rates. The real culprit, they say, is a lack of exercise. Their recommendation: once an hour, get up off your lazy ass and stretch your legs as you walk to the refrigerator for a cold, refreshing Coke.
The scientists at Global Energy Balance Network, a "non-profit" financed by Coca-Cola, say that critics have blown the Time's report all out of proportion. They don't want Coke's money. They just want money. It's expensive to buy television ads to tell people that they're fat, but someone's got to do it!
The GEBN is a proud, independent organization that has produced studies proving that lack of exercise makes kids all over the world obese. Some of those kids can't afford to drink Coke four times a day, so that proves Coke consumption can't be a problem. It's science!
Personally, I think we shouldn't be so quick to attack the GBEN for this seeming conflict of interest. Coca-Cola gives money to lots of people, not just so-called "experts" whose findings just happen to support their marketing goals. The company supports youth fitness centers and donates soda to little league baseball games all across America. Working up a sweat is thirsty work, and Coke is there for America's youth.
So listen up, kids. Go outside and play something. And if all that running around makes you thirsty, reach for The Pause That Refreshes™. Just remember to run an extra two miles to burn off the calories in that delicious bottle of Coke! If you get fat, it's your own damn fault.
Remember the Super Bowl? Remember Coca-Cola's #MakeItHappy ad? I distinctly recall thinking, "that's a terrible idea" after just one viewing. It took Coca-Cola slightly longer. They found out earlier this week.
Gawker, an internet site dedicated mostly to celebrity gossip, discovered that Coca-Cola was using a bot to turn the hashtagged tweets into ASCII art and decided to create its own bot to send large chunks of Mein Kampf Coca-Cola's way. It took a while for Coke to catch on that they were mindlessly turning Adolph Hitler's autobiography into art, but when they did, they terminated the campaign. Because the one thing that doesn't go better with Coke is Adolph Hitler.
Said Coke to Adweek:
"It's unfortunate that Gawker is trying to turn this campaign into something that it isn't. Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign."
So when confronted by the very negativity that they solicited, Coca-Cola canceled the campaign. What, exactly, did you think was going to happen, Coke?
A fun thought exercise on this is to try and figure where to lay the blame. Maybe a global company using robots to engender mindless brand-loyalty needed exposing, but was that the right way to do it? Should Coke receive any credit for trying to be positive, even if it was only a crass marketing ploy? Would any of this have happened if not for the pervasiveness of Internet trolls dominating social media? And who programs bots to read Mein Kampf, anyway?
Welcome to the Wild, Wild Web of 2015, where everybody loses.
I have now tried Coca-Cola Life, the new cane sugar/stevia soda from the maker of my favorite beverage. Perhaps you've already seen it. It's the Coke bottle with the solid green label that looks like the box has been sitting outside of your local QuikTrip a few months too long.
Coca-Cola Life is being marketed as a lower calorie alternative to Coca-Cola's flagship brand. To give credit where it is due, Life does taste like Coca-Cola, if slightly sweeter. It just doesn't feel like Coca-Cola.
While I love the taste of Coke, I even more enjoy the "bite" of carbonic acid as it burns the back of my throat. Life doesn't have that. After the initial taste of flavor passes, there's not a lot to remind you that you just drank a Coke. And if you aren't savoring it, you might as well be drinking water. That also has fewer calories than Coca-Cola.
Who is the target market for this cola, anyway? If you're really counting calories, you're drinking Diet Coke or Coke Zero. If you have a problem with high fructose corn syrup, you drink Coke imported from Mexico. Who's demanding Coke Life? Someone who can't find a bottle of Pepsi Next?
I guess the best thing that I can say about Coca-Cola Life is that I don't hate it. Maybe one day they'll find a way to improve the world's most perfect beverage, it's just not Coca-Cola Life.
Brace yourself. Here comes the final list of movies watched in June.
100. (637.) Shoot First, Die Later (1974)
This Italian revenge film was not exactly what was advertised but still entertaining enough. (The third act "revenge" was limited to the last 10 minutes.) It's mostly about how Crime Doesn't Pay.
101. (638.) Hit Man (1972)
This is an American version of Crime Doesn't Pay in which Crime Pays So Long As You Stay Away From Children. For the record, I had no idea that action star Pam Grier was so willing to flash her dirty pillows to the camera. Not that I'm complaining.
102. (639.) The New Guy (2002)
I think DJ Qualls must fill some necessary niche in contemporary Hollywood in the same way Peter Lorrie did in the Golden Era. I mean, I like the guy, but he's always playing the role defined in the script as "geek/loser."
103. (640.) Shock Treatment (1964)
Speaking of typecast, here Roddy McDowell plays a crazy. But then, so does Lauren Bacall. This whole film could have been an extended Night Gallery episode. I liked it.
104. (641.) Hardbodies (1984)
I was raised in the 80s, so it should be no surprise that I have an affinity for the decade's sex comedies. This film falls somewhere between Meatballs and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. I'm not going to lie; I could watch this again.
105. (642.) Spring Break (1983)
This, however, shouldn't have been watched once. Boring cliche beach movie with less skin than Summer School and less comedy than One Crazy Summer. It's one redeeming feature is the blatant product placement for Coca-Cola.
106. (643.) Life with Father (1947)
I think this movie meant to portray familyhood as a heartwarming, positive thing, but all I could see were reasons to never ever get married or have children.
107. (644.) The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978)
I'd seen bits and pieces of this Beatles-parody mockumentary before, but never the whole thing. I was glad to see George Harrison was in on the joke.
108. (645.) Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)
There's nothing worse than a comedy that isn't funny, but an action film with bad choreography isn't much better. These films don't need actors with range (see: Bronson, Charles or Segal, Steven), but we do expect them to have some gravitas and the necessary ability to convince us that they have the will and physical skills to do the things we see them do on screen. Kristen Kreuck was simply not up to this role. Avoid it if you can.
Whew! That's 30 movies in 30 days. Back soon with more.
Eight million dollars is a ridiculous price to pay for a televised commercial spot on any network at any time. But if the commercial keeps people talking for days afterwords, it just might be worth it. Obviously, I'm talking about Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" advertisement, featuring the song America the Beautiful sung in many languages. That seems to be anathema to a lot of people.
In 2014, where it is fashionable in certain circles to talk openly about what a bigot you are, the response to this ad was completely predictable. Coke was counting on it. The only way to justify such an advertising expense is to make it controversial. Some companies use sex or filth to stir the pot. Coca-Cola managed to elicit the same response just by having a bunch of people sing the praises of America in languages that most of the world can understand. How... decadent?
So far as I can tell, those who have complained about the ad seem to think that it is okay for "foreigners" to put Coke in their mouths but not the words to cherished American songs. Maybe they'd be okay with it if the singers had to pay for the opportunity. I wonder they'd consider eight million dollars to be a fair price?
You might think that those who were offended would be happy to have Coke focusing their marketing on those who embrace opposing viewpoints. Just last month, Consumer Reports reported that common caramel coloring, literally the third ingredient on a Coca-Cola label, has been found to contain illegally high concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals. Drinking Coke these days might kill you. Of course, you'd have to believe in science to trust that news. (And you probably need to be able to read to have seen it.)
I don't think this one advertisement is going to have any direct influence over how much Coca-Cola someone buys. However, if it makes someone who can hate someone else for singing about America in a language other than English not drink my favorite beverage, I can live with that.
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