CokeSpeak: "A sophisticated form of language, containing half-truths dissembled as common sense. Its objective is to deceive the listener, usually for profit".

Mogadon words

Mogadon words

Alice falls under Svengali’s spell.
“Svengali” John Barrymore 1931 Warner Bros.

 Just relax for a moment …

Slip into silent slumber, sail on a silver mist
Slowly and surely your senses will cease to resist
Trust in me, just in me
Shut your eyes … and trust in me

(Kaa, The Jungle Book)


Most of us recognise the mesmeric power of these lines, crooned with a sibilant lisp over an hypnotic melody. The seductive invitation is (almost) irresistable, but why exactly? And what has this to do with CokeSpeak?

The key to understanding lies in the chilling half-truth that Kaa whispers, a few moments before he begins his lullaby:

“I can see to it that you never have to leave this jungle…”

Kaa, it seems, is an expert NLP practitioner, and this is a classic anchor – a state, circumstance or aspiration which the subject deeply desires, the promise of which is instantiated by the repeated trigger words – “trust in me!”, wrapped in relaxing music and phrases intended to induce compliance to Kaa’s message. In a word – hypnotic.

CokeSpeak uses triggers like this to:

  • re-inforce belief in the preceding anchor (usually  truisms or half-truths, see mindmap)
  • generate feelings of trust, acceptance, loyalty and comfort
  • lower intellectual resistance to any subsequent crooked arguments
  • amplify that the action required of the listener is … do nothing!

CokeSpeak is quite unique in that, unlike normal advertising copy, it is not designed to induce the reader to actually buy anything at all. Like Kaa’s gilded promise, all we have to do is gently fall asleep to these whispered Mogadon Words, a much easier proposition to sell!

We are to change nothing, we can hang on to existing eating habits, and keep our trust in Big Food, or our day-job as a nutrition professional working for the fizzy drinks industry, or be content to remain a morbidly obese consumer. Just accept the status quo, don’t think too much, don’t read independent research, and all these rewards will remain yours. Trust in me! There are no bad foods!

A literal ‘something for nothing’ deal. We can have ‘no bad foods’, really, honestly, truly, if only we can believe! 

.. there are no unhealthy foods or beverages—only unhealthy diets (link)

Rhona Applebaum, Vice President Coca Cola

Mogadon Words: The finest example of Inertia Selling it has ever been my privilege to witness, says Alice.

Next phase: The Crooked Argument

Notes on NLP: (Optional Reading…)

No … don’t switch off yet … for whatever your views on NLP may be, its certainly true that Big Food and their PR machine do know an awful lot about it, and just like Kaa, are using it, on YOU!

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how thoughts actions and emotions can be shaped by the careful use of language. Aspects remain controversial, but marketing people are quite smart enough to know what works, and NLP techniques are standard fare for todays marketing executives. Indeed the Chartered Institute of Marketing offers expensive training courses in this dark mis-use of the NLP art, and an understanding of its’ nature is crucial if we are detect it before we succumb to it. For the moment then, consider that a key ‘learning outcome’ for these courses is “Explore influencing language”.

We’re almost done with NLP, save to say it is substantially based on earlier works by Pavlov and (to a lesser degree) Skinner, and includes the idea of conditioning subjects (that’s us by the way). In the simple case, we can be guided (conditioned) to associate a ‘trigger’ phrase with an ‘anchor’ and in doing so experience that thing we all most desire – a reward.

This reward serves to reinforce this association the next time we hear the triggers, and the conditioning becomes increasingly entrenched in our psyche. This conditioning is independent of intellect, explaining why otherwise sensible souls are able to repeat nonsense truisms as if they were established fact, without shame or embarrassment. However, falling for CokeSpeak is not the prerogative of nutritional professionals alone.

Next phase: The Crooked Argument

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