The ad shows Coca-Cola brands including Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Smartwater and Honest Juice. Its emotional hook—along with smart choices about the role each brand plays in the story—makes the combination work where Coke’s other attempts at so-called portfolio advertising have failed, said Shakir Moin, chief of marketing at Coca-Cola North America.
“It is easy to put a picture of all the brands together, but it doesn’t connect with a regular human being,” Moin said in an interview. “There is no story to it, there is no emotion to it. We as a company have tried this in the past a few times, and it hasn’t worked because it wasn’t connected to a human inside. That was the problem.”
For example, Moin cited a 2012 spot in Asia that featured Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta. Consumers there interpreted the presentation of the three beverages as “choices” and not as distinct brands themselves. Moin was a Coke marketing director in Asia at the time.
Coca-Cola rival PepsiCo has also experimented with portfolio advertising, including in a spot that ran during the 2022 NFL Playoffs that featured football greats such as Peyton and Eli Manning enjoying multiple PepsiCo snacks and drinks during a road trip to the Super Bowl. PepsiCo has also run a holiday-themed campaign with multiple products featuring snowmen and backed by the Hall & Oates classic “You Make My Dreams (Come True).”
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Pushing the paradigm
While Coca-Cola’s “The New Guy” didn’t break any rules, it did require the company to push past “internal discomfort” with the concept of mingling its brands in ads, said Moin. “Pushing the paradigm” of marketing its family of brands is one aspect of an ongoing marketing transformation under Global Chief Marketing Officer Manolo Arroyo, Moin added.
“I would say as a company, we are becoming a lot more friendly to this idea of coming across as uncomfortable to create breakthrough work,” Moin said. “Otherwise, we are just not going to do the great work that we try to do.”
The wide variety of products featured in the ad required the company to find the right moments to make them work authentically, said Alex Ames, director of content and creative excellence for Coca-Cola.
“Working on individual brand content, you’re always having conversations about, okay, we’re gonna shoot the 12-ounce glass bottle of this product. And that’s what we use throughout,” Ames said. “But here, when we were on set, we had something like 60 different packs, and working with the crew behind ‘The Bear’ going, ‘Okay, where does this feel organic? Where does this feel real?’”
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The campaign will be supported by paid digital and social, organic social, out-of-home, search, and commerce and shopper media extensions, Coca-Cola said. The spot, with 30-second and 90-second versions, will also be split into multiple 15- and 6-second spots that more directly highlight individual Coca-Cola brands.