Blogging about the Coke Zero ad campaign probably isn’t the most timely thing to do, as it’s been on the air for around two years. However, the campaign remains as fresh as ever; in fact, I just saw the Troy Palamolu ad that first aired 11 months ago and found it as entertaining and compelling as the first time I saw it.
There are two reasons I’m a fan of this campaign. First, as a former brand manager (for Dial Soap), I get a kick out of having two brand managers as the stars of the campaign. Second, and much more important, I admire Coca Cola’s cojones in having its flagship brand–the corporation’s golden goose–be the ostensible bad guy in the campaign.
In several prior posts, I’ve been a passionate critic of ads that attack the competition. They tend to make the advertiser look like a cheap-shot artist, and they give the competitor valuable attention. In fact, the worst of these ads can confuse viewers to the point that they often think the brand being attacked is the brand doing the advertising. As a result, the competitor often benefits as much as–or more than–the advertiser.
Of course, when the brand being attacked–Coca Cola in this case–is the advertiser’s flagship brand, you’re advertising two brands for the price of one. And what better way to make people think that Coke Zero tastes just like Coca Cola than to show Coca Cola’s brand managers being furious that, well, Coke Zero tastes just like Coca Cola?
Not only that, the Troy Palamolu ad takes it a step further by parodying–very humorously yet respectfully–perhaps the most famous ad in Coca Cola’s history.
Not to be ignored in all of this is the fact that Coke Zero does in fact taste more like Coca Cola than any diet cola I’ve ever tasted. I even like the brand name, particularly the fact that it doesn’t contain the words “diet” like all of its competitors.
A great product plus a great name plus a great ad campaign adds up to anything but zero.