Chances are you’ve already caught the buzz over this Pepsi ad airing on Superbowl Sunday (go Giants!?), especially if you’re into accessibility issues. I had to throw it up for three reasons.

1. Accessibility

No, not the ‘we want to make our website easier/a great experience to navigate’ accessibility but the cultural challenge of accessibility or, in translation, the lip service that the ‘mainstream’ pays to the ‘marginals’. Deaf people on TV (deaf people other than Marlee Matlin) using sign has so many layers that two of them – hearing folks accessing deaf culture (and humour is a great culture coder) and deaf folks (or at least the actors and people behind the scenes who came up with the spot) accessing a hearing medium (sorry Voice Print) – illustrate just how well Pepsi gets the whole ‘community’ thing that brands are hungering for. Rather than pursuing the somewhat/sometimes artificial strain of community that’s architected on a web site, this ad illustrates how there are still so many communities that have yet to be linked in. As a peripheral participant and having done some work in the accessibility/disability community, I have to give props to Pepsi for all the talk and signing they’ll generate over this. I only wish they’d skipped the preamble of the ad. Like narration in a Hollywood flick, it sort of dumbs down the whole experience.

2. Humour

I still enjoy (and see the mini-genius behind) some TV ads. Unlike those who like to eulogize the 30-second spot, I still find some of them very funny, touching, original and – given how many viewers the game will have – an avenue that still offers a decent ROI to communicate with consumers. This one is funny, original and sly enough that a few dummies might not get the joke.

2. Pepsi

As a consumer I’m not much of a brand fanatic. My short list would include Mac, Google, Becks, Studio One and…Pepsi. No time to explain: it’s a history, memories, mother, Jamaica kind of thing. But Pepsi is a big part of my consuming life, even if I have successfully cut down since those PhD writing day. As someone with a great deal of loyalty to the brand who has seen little of interest over their TV spots except, to a minor extent, the Flock Of Seagulls-era Diet pitch, I’m just glad to see Pepsi stepping up to the small screen with something refreshing, culturally relevant and, yes, funny.

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