When Daniel Joseph, a York University doctoral student studying labor and technology, found out about Coca-Cola’s GIF the Feeling promotion, he knew exactly what he wanted to make with it: a Coke-branded critique of capitalism. An accessory for Coke’s newly launched “Taste the Feeling” global ad campaign, GIF the Feeling is a website that allows visitors to fashion Coke ads by combining a stock clip with a user-provided tagline. The result can be posted to social media or downloaded as a GIF—that au courant looping animation image format. Here’s one I made to show you how it works:
Not bad, right? A playful dig at work that offers up ice cold Coca-Cola as its salve. I never should have left advertising.
As for Daniel Joseph’s historical materialist ad, it required a bit more creativity than he had expected. After selecting a clip of a throng of businesspeople racing toward the camera, he added the line “Late for late capitalism,” a pun based on the post-war, neo-Marxist idea that capitalism might yet be escaped. It’s the perfect joke for graduate students and other black turtleneck-wearers.
But it’s not such a great Coke ad. Coke’s advertising represents a lot of things, from happiness to family to refreshment. But a commentary on the hopeless march of labor toward the inevitable end of global capitalism is not a message the company would ever send across the airwaves. Workers of the world are supposed to Enjoy, not Unite.