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New Diet Coke Ad Campaign Exemplifies Challenges Of Marketing Old Brands

April 4, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Financial Times writer Jo Ellison says Coca-Cola’s advertising efforts to rebrand Diet Coke as ”authentic, self-aware, [and] stripped-down” aren’t working for her. The ads target a younger demographic, she says, one that “might not identify with the ‘hyper-feminine, glossy” brand image of old. Introduced in the U.S. during the Super Bowl and remade for the British market, the ads are “cloying, annoying and patronizing.” They suggest that drinking an aspartame-infused soft drink somehow expresses the “female prerogative.” They pretend to suggest that women can decide what they want – “when ‘the mood’ takes me” – while also granting permission to do it. Marketing a product that will soon be “irrelevant” is a tough job, Ellison says, especially in this new social landscape and climate of hyper-awareness of identity: political, sexual, gender, and racial. Ads that try not to be offensive to anyone end up being just offensively bad.
Jo Ellison, "How Diet Coke opened a can of correctness — and went flat", The Financial Times, April 04, 2018, © The Financial Times Limited
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