Opinion: Coke on Thin Ice


After he's buried under an avalanche, wouldn't this guy's fingers (or tongue) stick to the bottle? I kept waiting for the payoff -- that our hero-athlete would sing (he does look like someone from Glee) or maybe even teach the world something. With no real ending -- just another beginning, which makes it seem like the snowball troubles will continue forever -- the message reads more like, "I'd like to buy myself a Coke and keep it just for me."

Judging from the weird, bland vibe, that would be a Vanilla Coke, thank you very much.

Why the faux-fun blandness? Does it have something to do with the global scope of the spots? Coke's Super Bowl ads of 2007, "Videogame" and "Happiness Factory," were wordless and global, and still managed to be inventive and delightful. Each took a contemporary, dull reality and turned it around -- i.e., "Open happiness." The concepts behind "Snowball" and the second spot, "Finals," could have been used at any time in the drink's history.

"Finals" is beautifully executed -- the animated parts are exquisite. It's also a cooler concept and I like it a lot more than "Snowball," even if it starts out like a not-terribly-memorable mashup of kids' movies like A Night at the Museum and past spots.

It seems to take place in some pre-computer age. A college kid is shown slumped at his desk, asleep in front of his history books, with a not-subtle "History final, 11:30 a.m." note on his calendar. It's 11:25. Slowly, like worms wriggling out, characters from the books come to life and start assaulting the kid, trying to wake him.

There's Napoleon and his army (and they are beautiful toy soldiers) and some miniature Native Americans with arrows. Finally, we see a wacky flying machine beautifully re-created from the sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Perched inside it, Leo and friends figure out how to uncap the Coke bottle sitting next to the kid, which awakens him. He gulps the drink and runs off to his exam.

But doesn't the situation beg for Red Bull? The Coke really isn't a catalyst for anything.

Forget the kid and his drink. What's most inspiring is the dream team of genius designer Leo, inventor Ben Franklin and boat launcher Cleopatra. Too bad they didn't get more screen time. Anything they pull off together would be dynamite. Even a snowball fight.