Brand: Dasani (The Coca-Cola Company)
Link: Click Here
Target: Sleepless in Mid-America
The 2006 campaign for Dasani introduces three new characters; a poodle, a goldfish and a camel. As with the 2005 campaign (see our review here), these new spots have the actors who play the animals describing how they prefer Dasani to the water they normally drink (or swim in for the fish). Each talks about the ‘clean crisp taste’ of Dasani. Each has perky background music and gives the fake animal a distinctive personality. Each ends with a product shot and a voiceover of the tagline, “Dasani – the water that makes your mouth water.”
Branding in each of these spots is strong. The Dasani bottle is visible for nearly the entire spot and the brand name is repeated several times. The characters are unique, and continuing the general theme of this campaign from 2005 to 2006 increases the odds that consumers will recognize the brand from the look and feel of the spots.
It’s a long fall from the top. As a company, Coca-Cola helped to create some of the most memorable advertising of the twentieth century from Haddon Sundblom’s unique images of Santa Claus which defined the modern holiday (yes, Santa Claus as we know him – fat in red and with a beard – was invented by Coca-Cola) to the classic Hilltop spot from 1971 that perfectly caught the mood of a new era. Coca-Cola did not just participate in the popular culture in these years, the company helped to define it.
No longer. Coca-Cola has been stumbling along for a number of years no longer leading trends but progressively missing the boat on sports drinks where they first failed to beat Gatorade and then failed to buy it, on energy drinks (Red Bull, Glaceau Vitamin Water) and in water where Fiji and others seized the high ground. Instead of defining trends, Coke has been relegated to follower status. Absent strong innovation in either products or marketing, the company has struggled to position brands that do not have a clear place in the marketplace from the appropriately-named Coke Zero (with its disastrous ‘chilltop’ spot) to the late-to-the-party Full Throttle energy drink.
So it should not surprise us that Coke has continued a campaign for its filtered water, Dasani, which in its desperation to make an impression just leaves the impression of being desperate. There are several strange and disconcerting elements to these spots:
- Fake Animals = Fake Water: This is not a parallel that Coca-Cola intends or Dasani needs, but the use of actors in what look like off-off Broadway animal costumes reminds us that they are not real animals. When they point out that Dasani tastes better than the water they naturally prefer (the camel says a cool desert oasis is just ‘sandy water’), we are reminded that Dasani tastes better because it is not natural water but filtered municipal water which has minerals reintroduced – fake water. This would not be this advertising blog’s preferred positioning for the brand.
- ‘Better than Natural’ is not better: The central proposition of these spots is that Dasani tastes better than other water. In itself, that seems reasonable. Bottled water drinkers accept the concept of taste in water and wanting to taste better is a good aspiration for a water brand. But as Fiji has proven, the gold standard in this category is untainted spring water. The closer the link that a bottled water can make to natural water, the stronger the brand. So when Dasani points out that natural water can taste fishy (in the 2005 spot) or sandy, it argues with consumer beliefs. Coca-Cola needs to find a better way to make a claim for Dasani.
Branding Bottom Line:
Dasani plays cute but scares the children.