Two Super Bowl spots for Coca-Cola, both of which broke for Super Bowl XLII. The first spot features Democrat Jim Carville and former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist arguing on a talk show. They say the word “wrong” at the same time and Frist says, “jinx – buy me a Coke!” “Right now?” Carville asks and Frist says, “No talkin’ – jinx rules!” The two leave the show and walk outside to a hot dog cart where Carville buys Cokes. Frist sees a tour bus and says, “How ’bout it?” “Why not,” Carville shrugs and the two take a tour of Washington, D.C. where they rediscover their love of America (even riding on Segway scooters at one point). The spot ends with them having another Coke while sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking at the sun setting over the reflecting pool and Washington Monument.
The second spot starts with a tranquil aerial view of Central Park in New York City. Three floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Stewie (from The Family Guy), Underdog and a Coca-Cola Bottle (which we don’t recall seeing in the most recent parade) are being handled by their teams. Then a gust of wind takes the Coca-Cola bottle aloft and Stewie and Underdog immediately begin to fight for it. The battle continues over the streets and sidewalks of Manhattan until, unexpectedly, Charlie Brown catches the bottle over Central Park.
The New York Giants may be going home with the rings, but from the brand manager’s perspective it looks like Coca-Cola won the Super Bowl. Although perennial favorite Budweiser won fan polls in such forums as Adbowl, Coca-Cola scored more points from a brand equity standpoint by surprising viewers with two strong messages about the brand – each of which place the brand itself (and not secondary brand equity props like the Budweiser Clydsdales) as the hero of the spot. In fact, the spots mark a remarkable turnaround year for Coca-Cola which has taken itself from the depths of advertising irrelevance (perhaps epitomized by the failed remake of the iconic 70′s spot “Hilltop” called “Chilltop” as an introduction for Coke Zero – an effort so profoundly bad that an online version cannot be found) to a fresh rediscovery of the brand in the hands of Wieden & Kennedy.
Coca-Cola as a brand is most successful when it used as a social catalyst – the profoundly unique element that brings people together. Even though Stewie and Underdog are fighting for a single bottle in the “It’s Mine” spot, the real story is all of the New Yorkers watching the proceedings in wonder, remembering their first trip to the Thanksgiving Day parade. On a small island, events can unite people quickly. Such is the message of this Coke spot. The Frist/Carville spot is expertly timed – coming as it does just a few days before the socalled “Typhoon Tuesday” when nearly one-half of the U.S. electorate goes to vote in primary elections. Speaking as it does of transcendent values that overwhelm partisan issues, it aligns Coke with an important cultural moment.
Taken together, these spots remind us of the profound impact of an iconic brand, one that has been easy to forget for more than a decade.
The Atlanta beverage giant’s future fortunes may hinge more on water and non-carbonated drinks (as evidenced by the recent acquisition of the Vitamin Water brand) but Coca-Cola needs to remember that the equity of all of its brands is enhance by the goodwill that the Coca-Cola name generates. Other than a few noble efforts by Wieden & Kennedy (and Psyop who collaborated on the magical “Happiness Factory” campaign” ), Coca-Cola has significantly under-invested in a brand that drives much of its brand equity as well as employee and distributor morale.
Branding Bottom Line:
Squint and you’d think Coke just aired an Obama commercial and an outtake from Cloverfield. But it’s still a home run.