Published on .

March 22, 2001

By Hillary Chura

Coca-Cola Co. breaks its first big advertising push since October 1999 for Diet Coke before the March 25 Oscar broadcast. The ads -- with the new "That certain something"

tagline -- feature voice-overs by celebrities talking about what makes people close to them engaging and appealing.

Actors Renee Zelwegger, Ed Burns, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Ashley Judd lend their voices to the ads, which will run on shows including Ally McBeal, ER, Boston Public and Access Hollywood. The work debuts on the Barbara Walters' Special on ABC, and another spot airs just before the Academy Awards show begins. The spots were created by agency of record Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

The target audience is 22 to 49 year olds, expanded from the recent 35- to 49-year-old demographic.

Actor's strike stalled campaign
Work for the country's leading diet drink stalled during last year's Screen Actor's Guild strike. By the time the strike ended, the summer soft drink season was a memory, so the company held its resources for a big push this year.

Diet Coke last year spent just $1.2 million on measured media, compared with $25.5 million in 1999, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Diet Coke brand manager Kristi Baxter declined to comment on spending. The current five executions are the only ones planned, Ms. Baxter said. They eventually could run online. The campaign will run through next year and possibly 2002, she said. A print campaign will follow.

Sexy undertones
Ms. Baxter said the spots, which have a sexy undertone, hearken back to the brand's origin.

"We're reinforcing the image that's out there," she said. "Image is critical because we've been quiet for so long."

Even in a down ad year, the brand grew 2.5%, according to Beverage Digest.

Over the years, numerous celebrities such as singers Paula Abdul and George Michael have been featured in ads for Diet Coke, which was launched in 1982.

Ads for Coca-Cola are slated to break later next month. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Amster Yard, New York, is charged with helping boost sales for the brand, the country's leading beverage with 20% market share.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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