Diet Coke Eyes ‘Next Gen’ Consumers

Diet Coke will make an appearance at this year’s Oscars. A new 60-second spot for the soft-drink brand will debut during the awards ceremony on Sunday, March 7.

The spot is part of an ongoing campaign called “Stay Extraordinary,” and “celebrates the achievements of the next generation of Diet Coke drinkers,” per the brand, which is owned by The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta. It will initially air during the Academy Awards, and two additional 30-second spots will be introduced next week during American Idol. (Wieden+Kennedy, Diet Coke’s lead agency, created the ads. The brand spend $30 million on advertising in 2009, per the Nielsen Co.)

Dubbed “Stay,” the new spot is structured as six vignettes showing people being extraordinary, and their relationship with the brand. These people include a nurse, a fashion designer, a movie director, and a celebrity, among others. “Drive, passion, and courage is what makes these people extraordinary,” said Katie Bayne, CMO of Coca-Cola North America. “Diet Coke helps them stay that way.”

“Stay Extraordinary” launched last month, along with the 2010 Diet Coke Heart Truth program, which raises awareness for women’s heart health programs. Marketing support for the program includes special packaging, TV and print ads, as well as digital and retail. Those TV ads aired during the broadcast of the Olympic Winter Games.

The Oscars will mark the next phase of that campaign. “We looked at the Academy Awards to launch our iconic work,” Bayne said.

The third largest soft beverage in the U.S. has been facing some stiff competition from another zero calorie Coca-Cola variation, Coke Zero. The total carbonated drink category was down 1.6 % in volume last year; Diet Coke was down 2.9%, according to the Beverage Digest. “At least part of the [decline] is attributable to the success of Coke Zero, which is probably siphoning off some Diet Coke usage,” said Beverage Digest editor John Sicher.

Bayne, however, argued that the two brands are catering to different audiences. “We’ve seen Coke Zero drinkers come back to Diet Coke,” she said, adding that Coke Zero drinkers tend to be younger (15- to 19-year-olds) and male. On the other hand, the “next generation” that Diet Coke is targeting with the new ads is aged 20-29.

Bayne said Diet Coke will continue with the “extraordinary” theme in upcoming TV ads, out-of-home executions, and online at “We have a bold social and digital plan that ties in with how people stay extraordinary,” she said. “You’ll see what we mean when those components launch in May.”