Art & Copy is a new film exploring the role of advertising in American life. The documentary, which screens in Boise tomorrow night at the Egyptian Theatre, examines the evolution of marketing, the conscientious change from simple product hawking to lifestyle-envy inducement and finally to social advocacy and intervention. Think what you like about the seemingly benign quality of Adbusters or the "Pass It On" TV spots, these are still brands and communal marketing in action. But not all corporate-initiated communal action is an unwelcome intrusion.
Recently, a localized example of advertising through cultural programs slid across my evening desk—a.k.a. the bar top where I dowse for inspiration with a pint of dry—the Pepsi Refresh project. This operation allows small community groups—such as Next Generation Book Extravaganza and Treasure Valley non-profits The Arc, Inc. and Warrior's Promise Foundation—to apply for sizable soda-funded grants to finance special events and programs. The endowments are based on public voting, the highest placed finisher in each monetary bracket receiving the funds. Grants range from $5,000 to $250,000.
For The Arc, an agency which serves the needs of Idahoans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the grant would help finance their Recreation and Vacation Experience (RAVE) program, facilitating rafting trips, dances and art classes for "RAVErs."
"Essentially, the grant would fund the program for a year, which would mean that we would be able to provide scholarships for people to participate," says Tiffani Leslie, the Arc, Inc. rep who waters at the same nighttime oasis as me. "We all deserve the opportunity to experience these activities of leisure. A lot of people with disabilities don't have that chance. RAVE assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by supporting their participation in our community."
Other Idaho organizations currently in the ranks include Hillcrest High School and Melba Friends Church. Here's how you can vote for your favorite projects. Go to the Pepsi Refresh Project website and select the Vote For Near You option. Click through the different grant projects and vote. You get a new vote each day, so rinse—preferably with Pepsi Ice Cucumber if you can find it—and repeat. For the Facebook folks there is, of course, an app.