There are only so many gigantic soda brands that can really be the beverage of nonconformists. And by so many, we mean zero.
Dr Pepper has long cast itself as the choice of individuals, though not all that convincingly. Now, Coca-Cola's Sprite is out with a new spot, from BBH in New York and Shanghai, that's meant to pitch the drink to adolescents—serving up "an insightful invitation to teens all over the world to feel comfortable about being themselves," according to brand manager Jonathan Mildenhall. The ad, titled "Camouflage," opens on a desolate cityscape—feeling angsty, much?—where it turns out the inhabitants are not missing but sleeping standing up, covered in paint so as to blend seamlessly into the walls and objects behind them. One young buck rustles to consciousness, reaches into his satchel, and pulls out—lo, a Sprite! He swigs and is awakened, stripping to his boxers, wiping the pigment from his face, and jogging off into the city, whose other citizens—still plastered to their backdrops—eye him warily. Before long, he runs into a kindred, scantily clad lady spirit, and the sparks fly. See, it's a love story, too.
The spot deliberately eschews language in favor of visual storytelling, so as to translate "across cultures," according to BBH N.Y. CCO John Patroulis. The shots and scenery are stunning: Industrial beiges and grays play up the sense of oppression. And the location, Prague, tangibly fraught with a history of Communist rule, offers a stunning hodgepodge of architectures that compound the eeriness of the ad. It's slated to run in markets worldwide, and it's worth noting that Sprite is, according to Nielsen, the most popular soda in China—a place the brand likely hopes a message about freedom will resonate with a youth population that is, according to the Western narrative, at least, increasingly embracing Western culture. There, the stakes for conformity and self-expression are significantly higher than in the U.S.—and we won't try to guess how a message about such topics might be received. But here, at least, the pressure to conform is among the persistent, underlying forces of most mass-consumer advertising—and the notion that teens would rebel by joining millions of other people in drinking a particular brand of soda seems like the kind of laughably half-baked logic most people would instinctively see through.
Then again, we're sure a lemon-lime beverage tastes plenty refreshing for those times when you're completely swathed in paint. And when all else fails, the agency can always just throw in a mostly naked girl. Because Sprite will get you laid. Promise.
Agency: BBH, New York and Shanghai
Chief Creative Officers: John Patroulis, Johnny Tan
Executive Creative Director: Ari Weiss
Copywriters: Jordan Kramer, Jay Qian, Leo Zhang
Art Directors: Jeffrey Sun, Andre Massis
Senior Producer: Jennifer Moore
Head of Broadcast: Lisa Setten
Business Manager: Laurie Litonjua
Production Designer: Petr Kunc
Editorial Company: Work Editorial Inc.
Executive Producers: Jane Dilworth, Erica Thompson
Editor: Bill Smedley
Assistant Editor: Healy Snow
Visual Effects Company: The Mill
Visual Effects Supervisor: Hitesh Patel
Producer: Boo Wong
Colorist: Seamus O'Kane
Compositors: Naomi Anderlini, Rosalind Paradis, Suzanne Dyer, Mark French, Burtis Scott
Music: Beacon Street Studios
Mix: Sound Lounge
Audio Engineer: Tommy Jucarone
Producers: Jill Silberstein, Dana Fairbairn
Prod co: Gorgeous/Anonymous Content
Director: Peter Thwaites
Executive Producers: Paul Rothwell, Jeff Baron
Line Producer: Anna Hashmi
DP: Joost van Gelder