By: Wendy Lin
PepsiCO released the first “deaf” commercial in 2008. It employed deaf actors as the characters and used conversations carried out through sign language. The idea behind the commercial was the desire to reach out to a larger audience, one that included a normally marginalized minority that other soft drink companies (and indeed other companies in general) did not normally target for advertisement. This strategy was both clever and tactful. Focusing on the typically ignored deaf community brought praise and respect to Pepsi, due their considerate change in point-of-view for the individuals portrayed in the commercial.
In addition to focusing on a new target segment, Pepsi also made a rather amusing commercial. Not only is it funny, but it also plays on humans’ main, natural reliance on both the visual and the auditory; the commercial strategically removed the latter to force the audience’s dependency on the former. This created an interesting and clever role reversal, since the non-deaf viewers are now briefly experiencing life as the deaf experience it.
Placing the ad during the Superbowl was the perfect way to maximize its effect: a sudden quietness that dawns on the the boisterious environment. The audience would have to have their eyes glue to the T.V. now for any bodily sense. The element of unexpectedness also adds another layer of intricacy as the audience would have to depend on their heuristic to explain why the expected did not occur. What better way to stop people in their tracks than with a sense of emergency?
Overall, this ad helped the brand gain more positive awareness from consumers through its sense of purpose and its creative structure. I personally think the commercial was a huge success and applaud the company for coming up with it. Not many commercials can manage to be both considerate, respectful, socially conscious, and humorous in less than a minute.