Ad of the Day: Coca-Cola Unveils Crown Jewel of Its ‘Crossroads’ Series on Teen Friendship

Dustin Lance Black directs his 'most personal' ad yet

The bond between two teenage boys, one of whom is gay, is sensitively explored in the latest installment of Pereira & O'Dell's "Crossroads" campaign for Coca-Cola in Latin America.

Launched this spring, the "Crossroads" advertising challenges young people to choose kindness and compassion over cruelty, and asks them to consider what real friends would do in potentially difficult situations.

In "The Text," a seven-minute film directed by LGBT activist Dustin Lance Black (an Oscar winner for his script for the 2008 film Milk), we meet Rafael and Diego, two school pals who engage in lots of macho banter about sports and girls. As teenagers often do, they trade casual put-downs and goof around almost nonstop, whether in the classroom, at soccer practice or playing videogames. They're clearly longtime best friends, and the young actors give relaxed, winning performances that convey the depth of their relationship.

Rafael, however, has been keeping a secret. It's no spoiler to reveal he's gay, as the first half of the film makes several nods in that direction, setting up the "crossroads moment" when Diego—hanging out with a bunch of their friends after school—discovers a revealing text on Rafael's phone. The actors handle the finale with much aplomb, staying true to the inclusive "Crossroads" theme and their characters. In the end, Diego and Rafael have shared a defining experience, a moment of true growth and understanding, and both are wiser, and perhaps even closer, for it.

As my colleague Tim Nudd noted in his appraisal of the two previous "Crossroads" films (also directed by Black), the product integration and use of a fist bump (part of the campaign's visual palette that extends to Coke's white-on-red ribbon design) feel "a little shoehorned" into the content. Actually, the fist bump works pretty well here, but sending Rafael to the fridge for some Cokes to set up the story's denoument could be viewed as a tad self-serving.

That said, one could argue that by placing itself at the precise moment of truth, Coke strengthens its connection to the cause, and affirms that its commitment is very much the real thing.

Black deserves credit for his work on all three "Crossroads" films. His easygoing, understated indie-film style is perfectly attuned to the subject matter. The message never overpowers the storytelling, but evolves naturally from each tale.

" 'The Text' was perhaps the most personal for me to direct," Black says. "As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to share the stories of who LGBT people truly are, in order to dispel any atmosphere of fear that might prevent LGBT people from sharing their lives openly."

Client: Coca-Cola Latin America
IMC Director LATAM: Marta Fontcuberta
IMC Director: Ismael Pascual
Content Excellence Director: Diego Bracamontes
Coca–Cola IMC Senior Manager: Eduardo Ruiz
Coca–Cola IMC Manager: Layla del Razo
Coca–Cola IMC Junior Manager: Adriana Sahagun
Coca-Cola Trademark Brand Director: José Luis Basauri
Coca-Cola Brand Director: Unai Alvarez
Coca-Cola Brand Manager: Valeria Lopez

Coca-Cola Design Team
Global Design Director: Rapha Abreu
Vice President, Design: James Sommerville
Senior Global Design Director: Tom Farrel
Global Design Project Manager: Craig Stroud
Global Designers: Chrsitine Lee, Megan Libby
Senior Design Manager: Aidee Rodriguez

Agency: Pereira & O'Dell
Chief Creative Officer: P.J. Pereira
Executive Creative Director: Jaime Robinson
Creative Directors: Rob Lambrechts, Rafael Rizuto
Senior Art Director: Luke Acret
Senior Copywriter: Omid Amid
Senior Designer: Moses Kelany
Chief Strategy Officer: Ana Cortat
Strategist: Sara Lezama
Vice President, Production: Jeff Ferro

Senior Film Producer: Victoria Whitlow
Co-Director, Client Services: Henry Arlander
Account Director: Mona Gonzalez
Account Executive: Rose Valderrama
Trailer, Interactive Editor: Collin Kriner
Senior Production Designer: Aaron Rodriguez

Vice President, Distribution: Josh Brandau
Project Manager: Lauren Parker
Agency Marketing, Public Relations: Molly Parsley

Business Affairs Director: Russ Nadler

Production Company: Bully Pictures
Director/writer: Dustin Lance Black
Director of Photography: Carlos Verón
Executive Producer: Jason Forest
Producer: Gunner Clancey

Visual Effects: Laundry!
Editing: Umlaut Films
Editor: Alex Rodríguez
Poster Designer: Erik Buckham
Illustrator, Retoucher: Adhemas Batista

Theme Music: One Direction, "Clouds"

Music Supervisor: Aminé Ramer
Original Score Composer: Grayson Sanders, Music Dealers