GRSJ 300 Culture Jam Assignment [2019 Summer]

Original Advertisement:

In this advertisement, the brand “Tchibo” depicts a drum kit that is made with various coffee-related objects, such as the conspicuous coffee cups acting as the toms and snare, and the ceramic saucers being the cymbals of the drum kit. This advertisement brings the worlds of music and coffee together, by doing a play on words, which is “beat your sleep”, referring to both the act of “beating” or playing the drums and “beating” your sleep. As a critic of the coffee industry and the normalization of coffee being more appealing to younger generations, I believe that the biggest problem with advertisements like these are: first, we see that coffee is something that acts like a permanent fix to your sleeping methods and it is strongly suggesting that sleep is something that is not necessary and it can be something that can be “beat” (which promotes bad sleep hygiene) and can be fixed by chugging some coffee in the morning.

I believe that this advertisement is a good example of how society views coffee as a commodity that will be a fix to physical needs such as sleep or fatigue, and in doing so we negate the fact that caffeine itself is also a drug with potent side effects, and should not be a replacement to sleep. The advertisement recommends people to brush away sleep as something that can be “beat” (like a minor nuisance or obstruction) and instead to buy their products, ignoring the consumer’s health and lifestyle. The fact that they use playful words and imagery to simplify the issue of getting a healthy amount of sleep is concerning, and it is in essence favoring the culture of work being more important than your personal health.

My Edit:

In my version of this advertisement, I changed the text to display “Beat your health” instead of “Beat your sleep”, in order to contrast the absurdity of the original message. I also added a subtitle text that is more “in your face” kind of message that states, “Your sleep doesn’t matter to us-coffee fixes everything, right?” as a funnier way to portray the company’s attitude towards the consumers and client base. Some other things that I have added were the steam vapor coming out of the hot coffee cups being a symbol of death (also known as skull and crossbones). This is a play on the concept of a good cup of coffee is most of the times portrayed in advertisements as the steaming hot cup of coffee that is freshly served in the morning from your kitchen, and the cup usually having a cloud of vapor rising, giving off this impression of warmth and boldness that the coffee cup represents. Instead of having that warm embrace of the coffee vapor, I instead replaced the warmness with a mild hint of death, which not as obvious as the lettering but it is there if you look carefully enough, representing the hidden health risks and the potential risk of early death if you replace sleep with a cup of coffee in the morning.

I wanted to make this culture jammed version of the ad more straightforward and absurd, as I was inspired a lot from the film “They Live”, which has a particular scene where a character wears a special set of sunglasses that reveals the meaning behind posters and billboards around the city, by acting as a filter that reduces consumerist content into simple words such as “stay asleep” and “obey”, which I found interesting. This idea, for me, was to blend the idea of that scene without changing the overall design of the advertisement, to show how absurd and outrageous some advertisements can be, without us recognizing what it truly means.