My step-father isn’t the kind of guy who typically stays on top of international news, but the story about this ad caught his attention… so much so that he called my mom immediately upon hearing it on the radio to tell her about the scandalous ad. My mom then sent my sisters and I an email with a YouTube link to the television commercial, which is why I’m writing this blog post. This chain of events leads me to ask myself, “Did Sprite really want the ad to air, or is this whole thing a big publicity stunt?” After all, any press is good press when it comes to marketing, right? And the most effective type of marketing is, ahem, oral and viral.
Regardless of the company’s PR intentions, one thing is clear: the explicitness of the ad is shocking. Even my pro-sex sensibilities didn’t stop my jaw from hitting the floor at the first frame, which shows a young, blonde, White girl on her knees in a kitchen seemingly performing oral sex on a tall, ripped, Black guy whose pleasure is apparent in his facial contortions. When we see the young woman’s face, though, her eyes are glazed and distant as she thinks, “I could really go for a Sprite right now.” Um, what?
*Pause video* The message conveyed to me at this point is that while the guy is fully enthralled in the sexual moment, the girl is detached and without pleasure. Instead of enjoying herself and being fully present in her intimate physical desires, her mind is wandering to her desire for soda. What does this say about female sexuality? That blow jobs are solely for men’s pleasure? That women aren’t “all in” when it comes to sex?
*Resume play* The girl pulls back, looks up at the guy, and thinks, “Oh my god.” The man’s face shows release. She goes in again, and the camera swings out to show the viewer that it wasn’t a penis in the girl’s mouth, but a phallic Sprite bottle. (Pause: So what the hell was the dude all orgasmic about?) As she pulls back for a second time, the viewer is treated to a slow-motion money shot; the young woman is sprayed in the face as the carbonated beverage bursts from its container. The liquid then dribbles out of her mouth and down her chin, and her grimace turns into a huge grin. One person’s response to the ad was to say, “They might as well just show us a porno and put Sprites[sic] logo at the end of it!” And, well, that’s kinda what they did since this ad is straight up softcore Porn 101.
I decided to dig a bit deeper into the interwebs because something didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t just my annoyance at the use of gender and sexuality tropes that perpetuate sexual myths. Was this commercial a big hoax? Yes, folks. It was.
The YouTube description of this ad calls it a “spec commercial,” which is a demo created by an aspiring director that was not commissioned by the company, and that might have been the first tip to Perez Hilton, who first broke the story, that something was amiss. A spec commercial is a job seeking tool, and in this economy it’s no surprise that the creator (Max Isaacson) might try to pass off this ad as real in order to get attention. Well, it seems to be working, except that people don’t think this ad is cool. They think it’s f*ed up.
The New York Press spoke to John Jones, the 23-year-old Brooklynite actor who received the faux-blow, and he has an interesting take on why the commercial is getting so much attention: “The controversy is the fact that she’s a White girl blowing me and I’m Black. That role reversal freaks people out.” Though I do think the ad would have been startling regardless of the race of the actors, I absolutely agree with him. Interracial relationships are still taboo, and this commercial capitalizes on all the taboo it can get.
At the end of the day, I wonder what Coca-Cola will think of this director’s 15 minutes of fame. I can’t imagine the company–whose wholesome, fun-loving image is being tainted–will be all too pleased about being promoted by tired smut cliches.