Blog Post #1: Ciroc and Diddy – Come Fly Away?

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The “Art of Celebration” Ciroc Vodka ad featuring hip hop mogul Diddy is, at first glance, an homage, not only to the late Frank Sinatra, whose voice we hear crooning one of his classics – “Come Fly Away” – but to the lifestyle that Sinatra represented. Diddy, a.k.a. Sean Combs, was considered an innovator in hip hop, and has also been known throughout his career as P. Diddy, Puffy and Puff Daddy.

The “Come Fly Away” Ciroc commercial, one in a series of commercials for Ciroc, presents an aspirational view of the good life, filled with beautiful people – men in tuxedos, women in sparkling cocktail dresses. The surroundings are elegant and luxurious. It’s the luxe life updated for today.

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The use of black and white instead of color images further emphasizes the nostalgic overtone and yet, the presence of a tuxedoed Diddy, tie carefully loosened, at once signals that this is a contemporary nod. If Sinatra was the swinging head of the Rat Pack in yesteryear, it is Diddy who is king now.

As Pettersson noted, “Visual literacy may be applied in almost all areas such as advertising, anatomy, art, biology, business presentations, communication, education, engineering, etc.” (Pettersson, 2009)

But Pettersson also wrote that visuals alone can be deceiving, adding, “It is not enough, however, to study visuals only. We need to consider and study combined messages, not only text, and not only visuals, when we study communication and communication situations.” (Pettersson, 2009).

Of course Pettersson was referring to how universities are studying the issue of visual literacy and message design, but some of what she said certainly applies to the reality of commercial advertising such as what we see in the Ciroc commercial starring Diddy.

Part of what affects the message in the Ciroc commercial is the cultural context. In order to accurately analyze the Ciroc commercial one must consider Diddy’s current place in the social landscape, and how that compares to the heights of his popularity during his heyday.

The fact is that Diddy is considered past his sell date. Yes, he’s rich. Forbes Magazine named Diddy the highest paid hip-hop performer in a 2013 article. But there’s almost universal acknowledgement that he’s no longer considered relevant or a true innovator or musical force to be reckoned with.

Given that context, trying to discern who the intended audience of this video is intended to be is actually a trickier proposition than at first glance. The initial answer would seem to be that this commercial is designed to appeal to those who aspire to appear that they are part of the upper echelon of urban sophisticates. Note that I said those who aspire to appear, not those who are.

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Still, there’s still an older, urban aspirant who still sees Diddy as a representation of a certain, high roller type lifestyle they’ve heard about. For them, this commercial hit the mark.

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7 thoughts on “Blog Post #1: Ciroc and Diddy – Come Fly Away?

  1. Hi Karyn, I think your take on the commercial is interesting. I agree that this commercial is trying to portray the high life. To me it seems as though Ciroc Vodka is trying to say that you too can live and drink like the rich and famous. To me it seems as though the producers are targeting anyone over 21 who enjoys vodka. If someone is going into a liquor store and is trying to decide which vodka to buy, why not buy the one that the rich and famous (in this case P.Diddy) are drinking? I think you did a great job analyzing this video!

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    1. Thanks Amelia. I think it’s all about what or who really represents the high life and to what crowd. I can tell you that there are certain friends of mine who regularly look to buy brands that are popularized by Diddy and Jay Z (stuff that I have never heard of, quite frankly like Ace of Spades Champagne). And then there are friends of mine who wouldn’t be caught dead being seen as favoring something because Diddy was the star of the ad campaign. I’m sure the advertising executives are well aware of that divide and have made a calculated gamble on selecting Diddy as their pitchman.

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      1. Admittedly, I sometimes buy into the celebrity sponsorship as well, haha. It truly is a great way to advertise. Additionally, the inclusion of Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” helps to cover a generation that may not be hip to Diddy. Nicely done.

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      2. Hi DQ:
        You raise an interesting point with the generational appeal by using Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.” I hadn’t considered that here, although I suppose the appearance in formal attire could be considered a generational cue. I certainly think the attempt to appeal to an older generation is in play with one of the other commercials in the campaign that I didn’t review. In that other commercial, Diddy and Company are welcomed by Frank Vincent who starred in “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos.” Certainly, there was an attempt at generational appeal happening there.

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  2. Hello Karyn,
    I think you make many valid and interesting points. You state, “Part of what affects the message in the Ciroc commercial is the cultural context. In order to accurately analyze the Ciroc commercial one must consider Diddy’s current place in the social landscape, and how that compares to the heights of his popularity during his heyday.” This is really interesting because when I watched the video, I too, was thinking deeply about the context. I think context is a very important part in visual media. The context can also be persuasive, which is what I found to hold true in my own video analysis.
    -Kenchetta

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  3. I agree that the commercial is geared to those who want to feel as if they are a part of the upper echelon. I love that the commercial is black and white as that is something that is visually appealing to me as it looks classic. I think there are a lot of people who will flock to Diddy’s vodka because of Diddy himself regardless as to if they are a true vodka connoisseur.

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  4. Hi Karen,

    I love that you teach journalism. I was just having a conversation with someone in regard to print journalism and the status of newspapers. My grandmother use to walk to the store daily to get her paper and in my mind I try to envision her using a computer to read the news. I still prefer the paper delivered. Something about having the paper with my coffee. It is interesting to think of how journalism courses use to be taught versus how they are taught now since so much has changed in regard to how individuals get the news. In thinking of digital literacy, I remember the first time I saw a news crawl at the bottom of the tv. I can now watch the news and read the news at the same time on the same channel. The news used to be 5:00 in the evening or in the newspaper. Now the news is on a 24 hour cycle…no one waits for news any longer. Digital literacy seems to be more defined within the mode of delivering the news.

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