Coke Unveils ‘Life’ Campaign

Coca-Cola on Sunday, April 22, launches a global advertising campaign of 31 TV spots in an effort to “reassert the bigness, the magic of brand Coke,” according to the Atlanta-based soft drink company’s chief marketing officer.

The campaign introduces the tagline “Life tastes good” and features everyday moments made special with Coca-Cola.

In one of the first three spots for the U.S. market, Jakob Dylan, lead singer of the Wallflowers and son of Bob Dylan, is shown enjoying a can of Coke before returning to the concert stage. But instead of singing the “Life tastes good” jingle, he croons a snippet from one of his own new songs as the 30-second spot winds down.

“We wanted someone with character,” said Steve Jones, Coke’s chief marketing officer. “Jakob Dylan is authentic and real. He’s gotten there on his own. It’s a very personal moment backstage.”

The aggressive push, backed by some $400 million, comes as Coke is eager to overcome a stream of bad news and improve and boost demand for soft drinks in advance of peak summer sales. Earlier this week, Coke reported quarterly profits that beat Wall Street forecasts, but lowered its growth targets for 2001 and beyond due to tougher economic conditions and strong competition from its emboldened rival, Pepsi-Cola. Coke reduced its estimate for unit case volume growth to a range of 5-6 percent for 2001 from a previous target of 6-7 percent. Volumes in Coke’s North America operations grew at an anemic 1 percent in the first quarter.

Created by 14 offices of McCann-Erickson Worldwide, and its Amster Yard subsidiary in New York, the campaign uses celebrity, youth, and music in an attempt to re-connect with consumers globally in ways that are relevant locally.

Another spot, set to run worldwide without dialogue or voiceover, shows a young woman dressing for her wedding. As female relatives display myriad emotions while tending to her, a young girl clutching a bottle of Coke stands amid the chaos, gazes thoughtfully at the bride-to-be and offers her a sip.

The old model of advertising involved “creating the world of Coke and inviting people into it,” said Jones. “People aspired to want to have Coke as a kind of a badge ? but people have moved on, pretty much in all major countries.” Now, he said, it is not about advertising a brand but “advertising about them as people.”

Jones said the IPG-driven strategy was to convey how Coke figures into everyday narratives in ways that appeal to local markets.

For instance, the “backstage” concert spot earmarked for China features that nation?s biggest pop star, Nicholas Tse. Drenched with sweat after a rousing performance, he makes his way backstage for a break. Someone hands him a bottle of Coke, and as photographers surround him snapping pictures and asking questions, he gazes at the bottle is if it were a refuge from the media storm. Returning to the stage he sings “Life tastes good” in Chinese to the cheering crowd.

In the U.S. version, Jakob Dylan looks cool and collected on his way backstage. Drinking Coke from a can, he displays a bemused smile while observing the swirl of people passing by.

“What the marketing community around the world asked for was help defining what Coke really stands for,” Jones said. “So a couple of us began writing what we eventually called `The Coca-Cola story.?”

Another U.S. spot that breaks next week shows a group of teenagers running for a train after a rock concert. One boy, reflecting as he drinks a Coke and his friends sleep, narrates: “It was the best night of my life.”

The German version, with different actors and no narration, opens with the group already sleeping on the train. One boy flashes backs to the concert and a meaningful glance he shared with the girl whose head rests on his shoulder. He wipes a drop of Coke from the bottle and touches it to the girl?s lip.

An execution for South Africa depicts a grandfather and his 20-ish grandson sharing a Coke and catching up on each other?s lives. One for Poland has a teenager allowing his younger brother win a game of checkers.

The TV spots were created and produced by McCann-Erickson offices in the United States, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, China, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Poland, Philippines and Bahrain and will air in more than 200 countries.

Radio executions feature the “Life tastes good” song played in country, hip-hop, folk, rock and Latin styles, among others.

Coke executives confirmed that at least one spot featuring Christine Aguilera went into production last week in New York but declined to discuss its content except to say she sings one of her own songs.

Jones said the campaign aims to recapture the “everyday optimism” of such classic Coke ads as the one featuring Mean Joe Greene and another in which a group of people sing on a hilltop.