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Commoditized Visibility: Coca-Cola, The World Cup, and the People

by Ethan Tussey

by Christopher M. Toula for IN MEDIA RES

A man rides in a small boat over the calm waters of the Amazon at dawn; a young woman in hijab juxtaposed with a wild black horse, running through rocky terrain and the worn buildings of Ramallah, Palestine. The woman says: “We’re not just playing football; we want to show the world we exist.” Eventually their existence is vindicated by a Coca-Cola sponsored trip to the Maracanã in Brazil.

The people depicted in this ad come from areas that are isolated and poor, war torn, or disaster damaged. They claim that futbol empowers them by verifying their existence; put another way futbol gives them a sense of value. Notably, Wendy Clark, VP of the marketing firm associated with the creation of the film, claimed that it would “create value” for both Coca-Cola and the people depicted in the film and to celebrate the power of the sport to bring “community closer together.” In this case, value is derived from being seen because of and through the “people’s game.”

Coca-Cola’s value as a brand has always derived in part from their visibility. That said, the value created for the people depicted derives from their association with futbol and with the Coke brand. As such, their visibility is circumscribed by both consumerism and the depoliticization of sports in general and FIFA in particular. While sport might give them courage and visibility the way in which it is depicted here seems to erase the contextual politics which undergird their reality and ultimately reinforce the depoliticization of consumerism and sports through the exploitation of its most downtrodden fans.

World Cup and Visible Commodities

A Coca-Cola World Cup commercial

from One World, One Game - Brasil (Brazil), Everyone's Invited -- 2014 FIFA World Cup (2014)
Creator: Coca-Cola
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey