Semiotics Behind Coca-Cola

The study and theories behind semiotics was created by a Swiss linguist named, Ferdinand De Saussure. He was known as the founder of modern linguistics because of his theories on semiotics and language. He asserted that semiotics was the science and study of signs. He defined a sign as being composed of two distinct parts; the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the concept the sign represents and refers to what we see, hear, or feel, in relation to the sign. The signified is the idea or mental concept we draw from the signifier. The signified refers to the message behind the sign, and can be interpreted differently by everyone. However, the signifier is more stable and is understood by the majority of people.

To give an example of how a sign is made up of both the signifier and the signified, I will analyze a Coca-Cola advertisement with a very irresistible bottle of coke and a caption above it saying, “open happiness”. The signifier in this image is how this bottle of coke makes me feel. It makes me feel like I want to open a bottle of coke, so I can experience the happiness and joy the advertisement is referring too. The signified in this image is a marketing technique used by many advertisers, and that is a visual appeal on making an ordinary bottle of Coca-Cola, stand out. The mental concept I draw from the image, is this is how to be happy, I should drink this bottle of Coca-Cola. However, keeping in mind that this is an advertising appeal meant for consumerism and capitalism needs.

I think there is room for misinterpretation in this image because what does it really mean to “open happiness”? Does this mean that everyone should drink a bottle of Coca-Cola to be happy? What about people who can’t afford to purchase coke products, does this mean that they have no chance of happiness? I also think it’s a little biased to say that a coke product would give you any type of happiness, because if you flip that bottle around and read the harmful ingredients that Coca-Cola uses in its drinks, you would be nowhere close to being happy. Semiotics is a great way of digging further into a sign and gathering what it represents, how it makes you feel, and what the mental concept you draw from it is. In this Coca-Cola advertisement there is defiantly misinformation in regard to how opening a bottle of coke would make you feel.

Emiliya Nazari


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