Coke Zero Advertising

Has Coke Breathed New Life into Diet Soda?

The Washington Post wants to tell us “How Coca-Cola got Americans to drink diet soda again.” That’s an interesting spin, but it’s not clear yet that rebranding Coke Zero into Coke Zero Sugar has done all of that. What is clear is that the relaunch is clever and it’s doing well for this particular brand.

The Idea: No Sugar

Soda consumption is dropping across the board, but diet sodas have been dropping even faster. Some people hate sweeteners, and that’s part of the problem. But another part of the problem is that the “diet” label – which used to sell a lot of low calorie soda – doesn’t push a hot button with consumers anymore. In fact, dieting is a bit repellant these days. Healthy eating has become the hot buzz word instead.

So Coke Zero came along in 2005, promising zero sugar. The advertising said it, and the brand did well when it launched. But now, the name is a bit too subtle in today’s marketplace, where soda is presumed to be the bad stuff. Market research told Coke that too many consumers didn’t get it. They didn’t realize that Coke Zero meant zero sugar and zero calories.

The Rebranding

So the name changed to Coke Zero Sugar. Who could miss that? The packaging changed, too. No more all-black cans. Coca-Cola’s signature red color is unmistakeable to signal that this is more like the real thing than Diet Coke. And they tweaked the flavor to bring it closer to the original Coke taste and give themselves another claim for advertising.

All in all, it seems to be working. The rebranding rolled out in August across America. Sales are up for the Coke Zero brand. But that doesn’t mean that no-calorie sodas are on their way back up across the board. They might be. However, Coke’s CEO acknowledges that Coke Zero Sugar is cannibalizing Diet Coke and regular Coke. Many moving pieces are in play.

This story is still unfolding.

Click here for more from the Washington Post and here for more from the Wall Street Journal.

Coke Zero Advertising, image © Coca-Cola

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November 5, 2017