>> Yet, over time, get exposed to enough of those ads, and when it's time to buy, your hand instinctively goes for the one your brain is bombarded with ads for all day.
I don't really think that has anything to do with it. At work we having both Coke and Pepsi vending machines. Most people prefer the taste of one or the other, to the point where if a place only serves Coke and they prefer Pepsi, they won't order it. Not unlike beer in America (Bud Light vs Miller Lite, etc)
Soft drink choices come down to availability most of the time. Chances are if you are at an event such as a sports game or concert, they've already made the choice for you. Same goes for a restaurant, McDonald's has Coke and Taco Bell has Pepsi.
Coca Coca spends about $3 billion a year on advertising.  I couldn't find a breakdown for how much is brand-building versus other goals, but I think we can agree it's a lot.
That suggests two hypotheses: A) People in charge of a $3 billion budget for an incredibly profitable and long-lived company know what they're doing, or B) An anonymous non-expert on the Internet has correctly realized that advertisers are just fooling themselves, and he (and everybody else) is above being manipulated by brand advertising.
No offense, but I'm going with A.
On a personal note, I grew up drinking Coke (because my dad preferred it), and I generally prefer the taste of Coke most likely because it's what I grew up drinking. I've seen Coke ads, and I've seen Pepsi ads, and neither one makes me want to drink one or the other or go buy one or the other. About the only thing it might do is influence me to go get a Coke if I was already feeling a bit thirsty although even if it was a Pepsi ad it would probably still make me want to get a Coke. In this case it would be a win for Soda vs. some other kind of drink like say a Starbucks coffee, not specifically Coke vs. Pepsi.
See the first reply to the first post:
> Holy fuck. You're right. I bought a car recently, and while the TV spots had nothing to do with my decision, now when I see them, I sing along with the song and cheer at the TV and shit.
It turns people who bought your product in to people who are fans of your product, which makes them more likely to become repeat purchasers (and less likely to seriously consider other brands when it's time to purchase).
This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness, and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price. Brewed by our original all natural process using the choicest Hops, Rice and Best Barley Malt.
Read it carefully. The beer achieves the self-described rating of... drinkable. That's not very high marks!
But I'm just one of those beer snobs who really likes drinking a good brew, not one that talks about "camel overtones" or other stuff or whatever that means. Reading beer reviews makes me angry.
Please don't insult American beer by reducing it down to the very bottom of the barrel.
And the venue / restaurant is going to choose what they think people like, so smart brands would still advertise to the end consumer.