Coca-Cola reframes the ‘new normal’ in optimistic campaign featuring George the Poet

Award-winning spoken word artist fronts the brand's return to broadcast after pandemic put marketing on hold

Published On
Jul 31, 2020

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Coke’s new global campaign, “Open Like Never Before,”  is a reminder of all the things we should cherish, even as we’re still enduring the pandemic, protests and the wringer that is 2020.

The new effort from 72and Sunny Amsterdam is running in the EMEA region and stars George the Poet, aka George Mpanga, the spoken word artist behind the acclaimed podcast, “Have you heard George’s podcast?”

The campaign’s main film features Mpanga reciting a poem he wrote, in which he reflects on the world today, wondering whether the trials we’ve suffered over the course of the last few months present a chance to approach life anew, with a more “open,” positive attitude.

“Wait, stop,” he says. “Who said we have to go back to normal, back to anything? What if the new normal ain’t the normal we knew? And we can’t just do what we’d formerly do. What if the big change is you and me? What if we choose to be open?”

The campaign marks the brand’s return to broadcast after the pandemic in April suspended its previous marketing plans. Coca-Cola at the time decided to redirect its resources toward supporting its retail partners and communities, and along with its bottling partners and the Coca-Cola Foundation, it had pledged to donate more than $100m globally to support local relief efforts. 

“Open Like Never Before is founded in the belief that we do not have to go ‘back’ to normal,” said Walter Susini, SVP-marketing EMEA for Coca-Cola said in a statement. “Instead we can all move forward and make the world not just different, but better.”

“The beauty of these uncertain times is that, for the first time ever in modern life, we all get to decide how ‘normal’ looks, and what we want it to be, for the first time ever,” added Laura Visco, deputy executive creative director at 72and Sunny Amsterdam. 

The ad was directed by Gustav Johansson, Indra Herö Wide and Marcus Ibanez via new-land, Amsterdam. 

The campaign will continue through the year into 2021 with other in-market activities that will focus on supporting local businesses just starting to reopen their doors. Other assets, including out of home, digital out of home and social will fearure more inspirational words from George the Poet, reminding people of moments we’d previously taken for granted. 

See the full text of George the Poet's poem from the ad below.

Wait, stop.
Who said we have to go back to normal, back to anything?
What if the new normal ain’t the normal we knew? 
And we can’t just do what we’d formerly do.
What if the big change is you and me? What if we choose to be open?And say…
I will never call my job unimportant again.
I’ll never say that teacher’s holidays are too long or that school is dry and I can’t wait to move on. 
My ears are not my earphones. What if I listen. 
What if I’m missing how bright your eyes glisten.
What if I just smile a bit. Travel less and love every mile of it.
What if I believe in the change my cooking, my music can do.
And what if I don’t dance, but just for you I might give in to the rhythm soon.What if I refuse to be a stranger in my own living room.
And I’ll learn my lesson from a bad memory, and I’ll keep social distance from bad energyAnd I’ll prove that funny beats sexy any day.But I’m still cute, anyway.
What if my dreams never take the backseat again? What if I’m there whenever you need a friend.
What if I celebrate my skin, my body, my hair, every day!Even Mondays.
I won’t waste another minute without you.
And I’ll stand by every word I sayI’ll make my vote count, make my voice heard today.
I’ll never say this city has too many tourists again.
I’ll lead, like a woman.
I’ll have a family of dozens.Give my little nephews and nieces some cousins.
I’ll stay right beside you. I’ll say Yes, Yes, Yes, I do.
I’ll never forget how much stronger we are together.I’ll carry that in my heart forever.
We’ll weather this storm.
So I'll be...