Diet Coke recently released a new marketing campaign with an updated tagline. The “Stay Extraordinary” is now replaced with “You’re On”. The problem is that across print and digital communication, the tagline comes off as “You’re On Coke”. As such, the company is receiving numerous reports of negativity claiming the soda manufacturer supports the use of illegal substances. A search across the web shows many people making fun of the new campaign (here’s one from the Gothamist and one from The Huffington Post). While it has gotten a lot of people talking about Diet Coke with some form of negative emotion, is it really that bad?
A new marketing campaign of some type was necessitated by the brand and segment’s recent struggles. The “Stay Extraordinary” campaign tagline has been in use since 2010 and was due for a refresh. Diet Coke’s sales and volume have declined at a faster rate than the soda category itself over the past two years. And last year, aspartame became front and center as a health-debilitating ingredient. To that extent, Diet Coke had to issue a specific campaign around the safety of aspartame (see story here). All these factors indicated that something needed to be done to stem the diet soft drink’s mounting losses.
The new campaign does have some positives. It has helped increase awareness and spur discussion about the soft drink. Part of the adage that “no publicity is bad publicity” is a consequence of this marketing campaign. Also, like the The Huffington Post article describes (via The New York Times), the original version of soft drink did include cocaine so it’s not entirely false. It should be noted that the beverage has not contained the narcotic for over a decade. And in a cheeky sort of way, people are no longer concerned about the diet product’s aspartame issue. They are more focused on the campaign itself.
Beyond the attention this campaign has generated, will it actually provide a sales uptick for Diet Coke? It’s hard to say but the campaign’s intention has been described in a clarification note by Coca-Cola.
“This advertising is one part of the new campaign for Diet Coke, which is called ‘You’re On.’ It celebrates ambitious young achievers from all walks of life and reminds them that Diet Coke is there to support them in the moments when they are at their best. Every single day, young people around the world experience ‘You’re On’ moments big and small. It could be a job interview or a national TV interview, a first date or a final exam, a presentation to your boss or a performance in front of thousands. The Diet Coke logo is the centerpiece of the ad campaign. Diet Coke in no way endorses or supports the use of any illegal substance.”
If consumers reward themselves (or prepare for big moments in life) with Diet Coke, then the campaign will be deemed successful. In that vein, you can expect Diet Coke to maintain their award show sponsorships where actors and musicians will have opportunities to share their success with the refreshment. Given that the core demographic remains 20-29 year old individuals, Diet Coke certainly persists as an rewarding moment for thirsty consumers.