Saturday, December 6, 2014

Other Hamlets: What Shakespeare Says About Coca-Cola

Not content with co-opting Santa Claus, Coca-Cola tried to appropriate Shakespeare in a 1928 ad campaign that used famous lines from the plays to describe their product. They poached 10 plays this way, including Hamlet. The line they selected was Ophelia's description of Hamlet before he went made in the Nunnery scene (Act II scene 2):

"The glass of fashion and the mould of form, the observed of all observers."

The ad copy is pretty hilarious: "Maybe Mr. Shakespeare didn't always know just what he was writing about. We can't ask him now. We can only take what he wrote for what it is, and in penning the above he must have had Coca-Cola in mind."

Yes, that must be it. Since Ophelia goes on to say all of this is now overthrown, we can only surmise that the ad copy writers didn't always know what THEY were writing about, and this is obviously a reference to Classic Coke as it relates to New Coke.

There might be an essay in how Hamlet was used as a marketing tool through the ages...


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