New Diet Coke Spots Hit the Oscars' Bull's-Eye

Even Hollywood Zombies Crave the Product

By Published on .

You're curled up on the sofa watching the Oscars to see what Lindsay Lohan is wearing (an electronic ankle bracelet?) and sipping your chai with soy milk. When the commercials come on, this is what may find yourself thinking:

Isn't that nice? A postcard from Diet Coke!

Ooooooh! It's meant so much to me over the years. None of those awful calories, so I can wash down my cheesecake guilt free. But, well, it's a ... cola. This is 2007. Who wants to be seen with a cola -- I mean, when Frappuccino is available. And Fruit2O. And Snapple Green Tea with EGCG. And Red Bull. And ... whaddya call that stuff nobody used to drink when it was free? Oh, yeah ...

Water.

But ohmygosh, Diet Coke! We had such a thing. Maybe, for old times' sake, I'll even pick up a 12-pack.


Guess at strategy
What you've just read isn't just our best guess at the interior monologue of the target audience; it's our best guess at the actual strategy.

Diet Coke, like all colas, is slumping and needs desperately to remind its core audience how beautiful things used to be. Hence the introductory media buy -- Ladies' Night on the sofa -- and hence the new campaign, couched as a message from an old friend. The tagline:

"Yours,
"Diet Coke"

Pretty clever, we'd say. First, it's a good idea to reintroduce the brand to those who loved it most. Secondly, the tagline also employs the old sales trick of describing your prospective purchase as a fait accompli ("Here's your kitchen. Here's your glove box. Here's your soft drink."). On top of that, the ads themselves are fun-to-watch vignettes in which the product is unequivocally the hero.

'Frames'
In one, titled "Frames," amid a wall of family photos, we see one framed snapshot of a young woman posing with her boyfriend in an atrium cafe. But then she comes to life, realizing that her can of Diet Coke is empty, and traipses through several other photos hanging on the same wall till she gets the sweet, sparkling, low-calorie cola refreshment she craves. Here Wieden & Kennedy dusts off the 3-D effects it used so handsomely in the otherwise mistargeted Miller High Life "Girl in the Moon" campaign.

In this case, it's way cool, and the accompanying song -- "Summer's Gone" by Scottish band Aberfeldy -- is way catchy.

A second spot is also an ambitious production. It's about a diva in her movie-set trailer demanding a Diet Coke before she resumes filming. This results in a wild chase across the back lot, involving collisions, explosions and ruined scenes until some poor P.A. saves the day. It's silly and excessive but in a fun sort of way -- especially when the kid encounters four thirsty zombies who turn out to be extras in another movie. The real highlight is the exasperated female P.A. who's barking orders to the guy. She might be the best actress of the evening.

'Empty'
The third spot is also charming, in a moody sort of way. To Judy Garland's boozy, bluesy rendition of "What'll I Do?", it's a series of views of people sitting with their empty Diet Cokes, looking forlorn. The song, of course, is about loneliness, but it reinforces the idea that Diet Coke is a life partner you yearn for when it's gone. This may trigger the audience question: How could I have let it go?

Yes, Diet Coke. You're a cola. And you're carbonated. But I loved you once, and I guess I always will.


~ ~ ~
Review: 3.5 stars
Ad: Diet Coke
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Location: Portland, Ore.


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