Pepsi Flavored Coke

You can tell a lot about yourself from the jokes that make you laugh. And you can tell a lot from those jokes that don’t go down so well, in your system. So, it is that jokes are a Rorschach test, as valid as any inkblot for revealing who we are. Which leads me to my story…

The other day I attended a talk given at a local bookstore. The speaker was a joke writer for a national humor magazine, as well as a former stand-up comic. He told the audience that his friends often sent him jokes that they wrote, but that they were rarely funny. Ironically, the joke that he offered as an example of an unfunny joke, written by a friend of his, was the only joke that really made me laugh that evening.

The joke goes like this: “Did you hear that Coke®, in an effort to attract Pepsi drinkers, just came out with Pepsi® flavored Coke?”

The joke has to do with the contradiction between character and worldly success. In order to succeed in the world, we must, to varying degrees, be who we are not. At one extreme, there are celebrities whose public persona is quite different from their true self. At the other extreme is the person whose persona corresponds to his or her true self. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

And that is what the joke is really about. Thus, Coke® can create Pepsi-flavored Coke® to lure Pepsi® drinkers. But, in seeking to be successful, to get more customers, it would lose its very identity. After all, if Coke was Pepsi-flavored, it would not longer be Coke.

In point of fact, Coke tried that some years back. It came out with New Coke®, but when its marketing strategy backfired, it came out with Coke® Classic. Behind all of this are people anxious unconscious questions about…


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