Pode Ser? A Moderately Humorous Deconstruction of Fábio Porchat’s Take on Brazil’s Cola Wars

In my recent article about the Brazilian absurdist comedy of Porta dos Fundos, I mentioned this little ten second sketch called Pode Ser. The ‘pode’ is pronounced ‘podge’ (rhymes with ‘lodge’) and the ‘ser’ is pronounced ‘sair’ (rhymes with ‘hair’).

I thought I would try and explain this little gem of a sketch, and why it is still extremely funny after any number of plays. The analysis also allows me to look humorously at Brazil’s on-going cola wars.

Some years ago, Coke was winning the cola wars in Brazil, as it has done I guess all around the world. In Brazil, when a bar or restaurant only sold Pepsi rather than Coke, the waiter would have to say something like “We only have Pepsi. Is that alright for you?’

‘Is this alright?’ in Portuguese translates into the phrase ‘pode ser?’ (literally ‘can it be?’). Some bright spark at Pepsi Brazil decided to turn this scenario on its head, seeing as how ‘pode ser’ sounds very similar to ‘Pepsi’. Hence there were a number of adverts celebrating the phrase ‘Pode ser Pepsi?’

So that’s about it really. In the Porta dos Fundos sketch, the waitress, played by Clarice Falcão, asks Fábio Porchat if he would like a Pepsi as they do not serve coke. He just makes the most ridiculous facial expression and declines, as he only wants Coke.

Just to make this article a little less silly, one of the other major soft drinks which is sold here is Guarana, a soft drink made from the Amazonian fruit guarana. The most popular brand is sold by Antartica, and some years ago Coke tried to create their own guarana soft drink called Kaut (pronounced ‘kwatch’ and rhymes with ‘latch’).

It’s finny as Antartica made this tongue-in-cheek advert in which a presenter goes to the Amazon and shows people the guarana plant. He then asks the question “where is the plant for Coke?” highlighting the artificial additives of Coke.

The advert was banned after pressure from Coca-Cola, but their tactics are hardly cricket here I feel. Coca-Cola’s marketing muscle is so huge that they are able to ban vendors from selling Antartica Guarana who also wish to sell Coke. Vendors have to sell Kaut, which for many Brazilian’s is seen as a lesser-quality product.

Guarana did score a bit of an own goal here in Brazil with a new advert featuring Neymar taking the p out of foreigners, but it was a bit of a storm in a tea cup and has now been forgotten (see my article The Advert Guarana, Neymar and D9 Should Have Made).

So there you have it. A succinct little stroll down Brazil’s cola wars. The world cup here starts tomorrow. I hope you enjoy the next few weeks, wherever you stand on the event and the surrounding shenanigans. I am off to the fridge to pour myself a nice refreshing Dolly cola.

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A British Look at the Brazilian Absurdist Comedy of Porta dos Fundos

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