The 2005 ‘Stubbies” advertisement by Coke-Cola owned soft drink company Lemon and Paeroa (L&P) is constructed in such manner to produce ‘New Zealand’ within it text. The advertisement has been produced with particular attention and reference to New Zealand and New Zealanders, subjugating a sense of nationalism among viewers. This essay analyses and explains how L&P creates and fosters a sense of national identity among viewers through elements of; nationalism, banal nationalism, and symbolism. The 1970s styled advertisement for L&P was created by the production company Sliversceen Auckland.
The storyline shows a formally dressed suited male entering a tailor shop and becoming acquainted with the casual clothing item of ‘stubbies’ shorts (Vist4ads 2005). These are an iconic clothing item associated with rural New Zealand and are coupled with values such as practicality and comfort.
A range of men are then shown in variety of situations depicting the versatility of the stubbies shorts. Although a great deal of focus is given to the stubbies shorts, the item being advertised is the soft drink L&P.
It is drunk throughout the commercial, and the advertisement suggests that both stubbies shorts and L&P are essential items of iconic ‘kiwi’ culture. This is reinforced through catchphrase ‘You were there and so was L&P.’ The use of personal pro-noun ‘You’ connects and involves the audience with advertisement through the nationalistic branding technique of ‘co-creation (ZALA VOLCIC and MARK ANDREJEVIC 2011).’The reliance as brand placed upon consumers to build and disseminate the brands identity.
The brand L&P has constructed their advertisement in a particular way which leaves a reliance on consumers to reflect, build and distribute brand identity of being an iconic ‘kiwi’ favourite soft drink through drawing on their proud heritage and positive pastimes which make up New Zealand identity and culture. The consciousness of a space as a nation requires a level of imagination: a sense of people affiliating to the same state who negotiate and construct meanings.
The definition of a nation requires a construction of representation of an image (Bell 1996). L&P strives to be an iconic image which in turn encapsulates the embodiment of what it means to part of the nation of New Zealand. Media scholar Claudia Bell states that the building of a nation is not all natural, rather facilitated through socialisation mechanisms that guide us a citizens (Bell 1996). The advertisement aims to guide viewers to reflect on time when men wore ‘stubbies’ and ‘everyone just left their keys in the car anyway’. The portrayal by L&P of these events is suggestive that these were ‘the good times’ for New Zealanders. The viewing population of New Zealand absorbs these values, reflections and associations with L&P as assumptions of identity, which are unconscious taken on board. The connective association with L&P and New Zealand national identity is an is an implicit marketing tool by Cola-Cola in order the present L&P as New Zealand’s drink of choice and a natural feature of a nation as summarized through the slogan “world famous in New Zealand since ages ago.”
This reminds the viewer that a nation can only be formed through history which makes us unique as a nation. Production and construction of ‘New Zealand’ in the advertisement occurs through the advertising construction and production of banal nationalism. Banal nationalism is a concept founded by Michael billig which argues that the consistent reference to the everyday representations of the nation conceptually forms expressions of nationalism such as forming an imagined sense of national solidarity and belonging among those united in a national sense. Billing claims that everyday expressions of nationalism can be as important and reactivate as the representational flag-waving of nations. (PRIDEAUX 2009) Banal nationalism is repeated throughout the L&P advertisement in a variety of ways. Firstly the sense of implied unity through the advertisements plotlines desires to be ‘our’ story and a snapshot of everyday New Zealand in the summer time of the 1970s.
This is achieved through the voice-over language and popular expressions throughput the advertisement such as the colloquiums “back in the day” and ‘Kiwi’s.’ The casualness of the phrases projects a sense of understanding and unity among the New Zealand audience. The L&P drinking New Zealanders shown the advertisement embody characters which are portrayed as typical ‘Kiwis’ in 1970s such as the small Maori boy with a large afro hairstyle posed next to his bike and the characteristic rural New Zealand bloke complete with singlet, jandals, and a mullet. Banal nationalism also occurs through the advertisement portrayal of typical New Zealand scenes which are familiar with such as the dairy, the rural country side, and a summer barbeque. These are relatable settings to almost any New Zealander and enables personal reflection.
The symbols of banal nationalism symbols are most effective because of their constant repetition, and almost subliminal nature, therefore a very powerful marketing and advertising tool. The production of ‘New Zealand’ occurs in the L&P advertisement through the placement of a range of symbols which are an attempt to reference and embody New Zealand as a nation. The repeated image of the kiwi bird along the window in scene when a stubbies clad male is impressing a pretty girl is not a coincidence. The kiwi bird is the product of New Zealand and being used to repeatedly remind viewers of their place in the nation, a process Michael billing describes as being ‘flagged,’ a term coined by nations overuse flying nation flags. The kiwi is iconic since the bird is native to New Zealand.
The advertisement also couples the kiwi with other iconic symbols associated with New Zealand and national pride such jandals, and the act of a large summer barbeque which are symbolic of deeper meanings to the New Zealander such as relaxation and family. New Zealand indigenous symbols such as the kiwi bird that are distinctively New Zealand are particular important in the production of nationalism within advertisement simply as they are not British. Historically New Zealand derived symbols of national identity from the motherland such as Britannia (Bell 1996). The kiwi build nationality as it is naturally occurring and guides New Zealanders as citizens. Symbols are closely interlinked with national identity as they draw associations among viewers. The production of national symbols like the kiwi into this advertisement that is selling bottled soft drink is not random, rather an attempt to associate the idealised images associated with the symbol and merge with the marketed product of L&P.
The advertisers wish to make L&P symbolic and iconic and to naturally compel viewers to place L&P into their symbolic category of what embodies New Zealand as a nation and what it is to be a New Zealander. New Zealand is multicultural nation and this has been understood by the advertiser by portraying a range of different New Zealander within the thirty second video clip. This is most effectively portrayed in the end scene of summer barbeque. The barbeque is made up both Pakeha and Maori attendees who seen chatting, relaxing, and drinking L&P. The use of people who literally look like they are New Zealanders localises the advertisement for effective absorption of values. Although New Zealand has many cultural issues such as regular Treaty of Waitangi disputes, these are brushed aside and New Zealand mixed culture is produced and perceived as positive. Although L&P is part of a global multinational company Coke-Cola this is ignored and the advertisement is produced with a distinct New Zealand feel leading consumers to believe the drink is of local origin, in particular the small town of Paeora which the drink shares its name.
The advertiser claim ‘world famous in New Zealand’ also slants towards the projection the soft drink is locally produced and therefore competes on a level international soft drinks cannot. (Bell 1996). A key component of nationalism is an understanding of history and the intermingled of both of New Zealand major ethnic races pays homage to New Zealand colonial past and assimilating cultures. L&P understands that the world is rapidly changing and globalisation is rapidly expanding and increasing the dominance of transnational marketplace therefore produced affirmation of ‘New Zealand” and nationalism with their stubbies advertisement to showcase and assert distinctiveness of the nation’s unique local, regional, and national identity (Bell 1996).
“Any nation’s existence relies on some sense of loyalty to that nation, on patriotic sentiment, on awareness of nationalism. A sense of shared purpose, a pride in a place, acknowledgment of national success. All these combine in a sense of belonging (Bell 1996)”. Michael Billing noted that Billing noted that every day we are reminded that we belong to a nation through routine occurrences including using passports, the language of political speakers, the media and academia (Billing 1995 ). However through examination it has become apparent that nationalism has become a tool by advertisers to foster nationalist feelings to their audience. The advertisement establishes and produces New Zealand as a nation and then reproduces and represents New Zealand as an L&P loving nation. In advertising, the power of recognition is manipulated for economic ends. The ‘stubbies’ advertisement shows an idealised version of New Zealand is order to create a collective interest in the product.
Bell, Claudia. Inventing NZ: Everyday Myths of Pakeha Identity. Auckland: Penguin Books, 1996. Billig, Michael. Banal Nationlism . London : Sage Publishing , 1995 . PRIDEAUX, JILLIAN. “Consuming icons: nationalism and advertising in Australia.” Nations and Nationlism (School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland) 15, no. 4 (2009): 616–635. Vist4ads. L&P stubbies. 2005.
http://www.visit4ads.com/details.cfm?adid=20954 (accessed 08 2, 2013). ZALA VOLCIC and MARK ANDREJEVIC. “Nation Branding in the Era of Commercial Nationalism.” International Journal of Communication 5, 2011: 598–618.