Twilight of the Superheroes

Last night I was in the Powell St. BART station returning home after seeing Twilight because when I am hungover and unslept I turn into a fourteen-year-old girl. For a couple of years now this station has almost exclusively run single-product campaigns, e.g. with every single billboard and pole-poster–at  least several hundred throughout the station–devoted to a single product. My fellow hungover friend knew the official term for this strategy: station domination.

The brand currently dominating the Powell St. station is Pepsi, in one of those campaigns that never states the product’s name — just an oblique URL (““) and Pepsi’s redesigned logo, which takes their old red-white-and-blue-balled lozenge and torques it:


It looks more like a airline logo now — and, of course, like the symbol for the Obama campaign. As I type this, I feel there must be at least 114 Bay Area and New York City–area bloggers writing identical posts about this very issue. Pepsi begs for the comparison — not just the logo tweak, but the campaign’s text: Refresh Everything and the attendant catchlines (several contain the word “change”) could have easily gone on an Obama/Biden bumper sticker. It all makes me want to play that classic parlour game,  Imagine What the Advertising Agency’s Meeting About This Campaign Was Like!!

  • Our logo is a lot like Obama’s. We need to turn this potentially diluting liability into a “positive” by co-opting the logo and the slogan. Change becomes refreshment, in every sense of that word: mouth-refreshment, cultural refreshment, political refreshment, spiritual refreshment. It’ll be a poppy, punny, sunny campaign: several billboards (and the TV spots) have the word POP (with the logo as the O) repeated with no context, so the meanings multiply: pop as in Midwestern for soda;  pop as in the Apples in Stereo track that accompanies the spots. Populism? Popularity? This country is behind Obama, and we’ll run the campaign where his support was strongest. The new Pepsi will be what fuels and refreshes this nation’s new Change-thirsty citizens.

The campaign is so obvious that it feels dumb to criticize it. It’s hard to imagine anyone missing the connection. Is this worth fighting against? Should we boycott Pepsi? Is there an editor who’d want an angry letter? Should I throw away my old Fun Trick Noisemaker CD?


13 thoughts on “Twilight of the Superheroes

  1. concerned citizens for logochange review

    at least it is not as bad as duane reade which changed its logo to ride the wave of…nothing:

    (actually, it’s almost like the d.r. people said, “hey, our logo looks kind of like obama’s, right? i mean, if he had a logo in the shape of a D and an R and it was on millions plastic bags and every third block in Manhattan. that can’t be a good thing. it must be terrible for subconscious marketing association. we need to change it, to be more like…darth vadar picking fonts in the dark.“)

    or maybe they’re choosing to reflect the state of the economy in their color scheme.

    or maybe they’re just duane reade, so nothing about them will ever make sense anyway…and you still won’t be able to find the toothpaste…because it’s next to the pencil sharpeners…in the shampoo aisle…

    at least they don’t have the funds to implement a STATION DOMINATION anywhere.

  2. hopscotch

    my mom told me it was called station domination once offhand in regards to three of the same poster in a stairwell- she works in advertising. i feel like it can be called that anywhere you have multiple points that express the same product. so it doesn’t have to be the entire platform or whatever – it can be, for example, one train car (eg dave chapelle campaign in nyc). i think it’s to actually show dominance- to, like, go “balls out.” which is even more sinister.

  3. alvaro

    not sure if it’s just in obama country. last night at hoe down in north carolina, while the two-steppers stepped on and during the chargers-colts game on the tv in the bar, the commercial advertising this new logo came on. they don’t mention the product till the last second, but the whole ad is a series of words in motion that, where, whenever an O is needed, they displayed that logo. i played the game of guessing the product during the commercial while suspending the knowledge that it was going to turn out to be boring and predictable in the end. i had to hide the word pepsi away from my mind. but obamaish thoughts did come often enough that i could feel the marketeers’ intent. i didn’t exactly win the game. pepsi won because we’re talking about it. pepsi lost because i ordered an abita turbo dog, a pisgah ale, and other location-based beers. point being, until pepsi makes a beer, i ain’t drinking it, lØgØ Ør nØt. but it makes me wonder, is pepsi siding with democrats? does that align coke with republicans? and if so, is this the first major brand to go so literally/politically blue-vs.-red?


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