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."

CREDITS

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