Back in 2004 I had to go back to the old country for a funeral, and because it was on short notice, I took whatever flight I could find, which happened to be a red-eye with a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland at some horrible time in the wee hours, and of course the same on the way back a couple of days later. When I boarded the puddle jumper from Heathrow to Reykjavik, I found myself seated with a bunch of young Icelandic Engineering types, easy to spot, just imagine a Teutonic blond wearing a nice sweater with a slide rule. Once we had boarded, the stewards came around with the drinks trolley, and this is where it got interested.
As I listened to the stewardess speaking to some of the engineering types in front of me, it became apparent first that they were on a work related trip, and second that the company was European or Scandinavian, not American. Their company which had obviously paid for the airline tickets, had also stumped up for them to have a little drinkie on the plane, to help them relax and enjoy each others sweaters no doubt. But if they wanted a soda pop, they would have to purchase such an extravagance out of their own pocket. She worked her way down to my aisle, where I was being rather obviously not an engineer.
I had chosen to wear my formal black coat I had brought over for Grannies funeral, since it was rather large to pack, I was also sporting what I thought was a rather fetching beard which I had started growing upon the occasion of the birth of my daughter some months previously. Added together with a complexion darkened by being outside during some lovely sunny days, I apparently was giving the impression of some sort of suspicious Eastern European, perhaps concealing a fizzing large black sphere under my coat which I would suddenly take out and hurl at the nearest monarch.
Suffice to say that I did not look like a Scandinavian Engineer, the stewardess gave her spiel about the Engineering firm’s deal to the engineer next to me, but pointedly asked me if I was with the firm, with a “I don’t think you are” look in her eyes. Well apparently he did not care for a beer, and chose a soda, which he agreed to pay for, then came the rub, he wanted a Coke, but she informed him they only stocked Pepsi, he said that was fine, paid for and accepted the Pepsi, and then drank it, because COKE AND PEPSI TASTE THE SAME!.
There appears to bo some sort of conspiracy over here to convince people that Coke tastes entirely different to Pepsi, which is something I don’t see myself. Having grown up with ‘Panda Cola” and other nasty tasting knock-off cola brands, I can assure you that many things that pretend to be cola taste pretty nasty, but Coke and Pepsi taste pretty much the same, at least close enough that you shouldn’t mind the difference and should really be thinking about something else, such as the unethical behaviour of multi-national companies in poor countries.
I have heard accounts of Pepsi and Coke wars in South America where the local rep’s of one company or the other will bribe politicians and local leaders to only allow the residents to drink their product, which must do wonders for their teeth, in return for relatively huge bribes in the local currency. On top of that, we are talking rural and impoverished areas of South America, that have no need for soda pop, yet company rep’s are conducting advertising wars out there for dominance over the local market. Which just goes to show how well ethical commerce is spread by multi-national companies.
I guess the whole episode just made me think about how much our everyday lives are affected by advertising. I have friends who swear by one product or the other, and refuse to drink the other one, saying they prefer the taste. But really it is the advertising that has convinced them they can tell the difference, and I must admit it makes me a little crazy when I come up against this, after all, who like to realize that they, or those around them, are being influenced in such an obvious way by a heartless unethical multi-national company. That said, I had a diet Moxie with my lunch, it’s the taste you know……