Publication Date

Spring 5-5-2018


School of Communication


Communication Studies: Advertising and Public Relations


Applied Linguistics | Mass Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Semantics and Pragmatics | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


The Coca-Cola Company released an advertisement in 1971 that had powerful themes of unity in a time of significant discord around the world. Almost 50 years later, the Pepsi Company released an advertisement that aimed to accomplish similar values of unity and commonality when the world seemed at odds with itself. While both advertisements sought to convey similar messages, the reception could not have been more different. Coca-Cola has experienced continued praise for their famous “Hilltop” advertisement while Pepsi was forced to take their advertisement down within 24 hours of its release. This paper utilizes semiotic theory to analyze the signs in the advertisements to create an understanding of how each advertisement was perceived differently. In order to understand a semiotic approach, this paper also approaches semiotics with respect to the historical contexts surrounding both advertisements.