Brand: diet Coke
Link: Click Here
Target: Diet Cola Drinkers
Three spots positioning diet Coke. Loft: A skinny twenty-something guy with a two-day beard growth opens a diet Coke in his loft apartment and dances to the song “I like the way you move” while dressing. It’s nighttime, but he’s putting on a suit. Sparkle: an attractive blonde rollerskates and dances down a California beach with her friends as bubbles flow upwards from her diet Coke. Lime: a random slacker-guy opens a diet Coke with lime in front of an undersea mural. We see the lime bubbles flow upwards as he dances to a cool song. Others join him until a bus pulls up and we see the mural is painted on the side of a building (in Redondo Beach, if we’re not mistaken).
We reviewed these spots because Ad Age chose ‘Loft’ as one of their ‘notable spots’ for the week, commenting: “The dancer in red socks, the multimillion-dollar loft apartment and luminous views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline are all just window dressing here. This spot’s real purpose is to associate the brand with one of the hottest, highest-energy music tracks to come out of the U.K. in recent years: ‘I Like the Way You Move’ by the Bodyrockers.”
The spots have energy, strong soundtracks and good visuals. They feature special effects bubbles which lend some energy and distinctiveness to the executions. The diet Coke can is in frame for the majority of each spot, so the branding is strong.
When the leading advertising publication in the country says of your spot “it’s all about the music,” that’s fine if you are selling music. It’s not so good if you are selling soda.
But these spots are all about the music and visuals and while we believe that soda is bought for emotional reasons and brands are about emotional connections, we don’t believe that these spots support the diet Coke brand positioning. We say that not being clear what the diet Coke positioning is and not having been clear about it for some time.
It is a great myth that you can create “lifestyle” advertising without a value proposition that will build a brand. Even the most extreme examples of image-based advertising – like the Marlboro man – have a clear value proposition. Smoke a cigarette and be a rugged individual might sound like a dubious proposition, but if you spend enough money on it over a long enough time and you are absolutely consistent with that message it might work.
There is not a lot of consistency in diet Coke. We have not seen it in the past few years and we don’t see it in these spots. About all we can discern of the brand positioning after watching these three spots is “diet Coke is for hip, energetic, attractive young people with a lot of free time on their hands.” But what is the value proposition? If you’re one of the millions of thirty or forty-something diet Coke drinkers, do you really aspire to slackerdom? Does it have the same appeal as being a gangsta, a player, a suave socialite, a Hilton? Does it express the inner you?
Contrast this with the advertising that has built Sprite over the years and you’ll see the problem more clearly. Sprite didn’t hesitate to have an attitude, to avoid speaking to everyone because they were suffering at the hands of 7-Up. They made choices. They spoke the language of basketball and individualism and against establishment. And they became part of the urban social order in the process. Sprite doesn’t appeal to everyone but Sprite advertising appeals strongly to all sorts of real-life Sprite drinkers.
Finally, there is the question of ownability. Do these spots attach uniquely to diet Coke? There is a very significant effort to do this visually – between the constantly present diet Coke can and the bubbles. But how is this ownable? There’s nothing in these spots that might not attach as well to Diet Pepsi or any other carbonated caffienated diet drink. Or even a non-diet drink for that matter.
diet Coke doesn’t know why it exists and who it exists for. It fails to answer the basic question – how is a diet Coke drinker different from any other diet drinker? How does s/he see the world? Who is the hardcore diet Coke drinker?
None of this is entirely the fault of the current diet Coke brand team or the advertising agency. They are going to great pains to create something different and memorable. And the something – the ad – is pretty memorable. But the brand is not. And that’s because nobody seems to really understand what the brand stands for. Not the company. Not the agency. And not the consumer.
One final concern: is nobody at Coca-Cola worried about the diet Coke trademark? What’s with the full lowercase use of the brand in the tagline “it’s a diet coke thing” ??
Branding Bottom Line:
Full of sound and fury, these spots signify nothing.