virus: Re: memes and chemicals

Ken Pantheists (
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 03:56:13 +0000

Jolt-X wrote:

I've been thinking of memes in terms of advertising and there was no
way to avoid thinking of Coca-Cola. Does the advertising spread the
Or does the caffeine/taste in the drink (keeping you liking it)? If
is a "Coke" virus, how would you define it?


You've been musing over what I consider to be one of the most unusual
products of western commercial art.

Coke is quite a phenomenon when you look at its colorful history.

I am unable at the time to back any of this up with citations, so feel
free to confirm/contest this.

When Coke came to market in the early decades of this century (1920's
ish?) it contained real cocaine-- as did many medicines and so forth. It
was apopular stimulant-- it addictive side effects where not yet given a
great deal of concern.

There are a few things that helped spread the meme of Coke.

First of all, the recipe. I don't doubt that chemical addiction played a
part in generating desire for the product. But that alone cannot be the
full account of its success. There were many cocaine products on the

The genius was in the design of the original coke bottle. Many
Commercial artists and disigners still hold this to be one of the
crowning achievements of package design.

The bottle is unusual, totally unique-- its shape and ridged surface
kind of makes you want to grab it. There's another reason why the bottle
appears to be so "grabbable". The designers incorporated a couple of sex
memes as well. The shape of a coke bottle is said to be evocative of a
woman's figure. Couple that with the already Phallic nature of the small
bottle and you have quite a bit of "stimulation".

More recent research into the way people recieve and process visual
information has prompted Coke to stay with the familiar red and white
swoop. In fact. If you look at Coke machines through the ages-- that red
swoop has gotten bigger and bigger.

  Ken Pantheists