The U.S. is perhaps

the only country that claims a soda as part of its national identity. So if you’re an American celebrating a momentous occasion, you’d better have a Coke—or suffer the consequences.

So says Cliff Freeman and Partners’ first creative effort for the Coke brand. Four TV spots in the campaign, which retains the “Enjoy” tagline, have characters who turn indignant when their requests for Coke are unmet.

“Coke and its marketing mirrors America in the 20th century,” says Cliff Freeman, chairman and chief creative officer. “Especially [America] in the movies. Family, friends, good times. We set that up, but our approach was to do something different.”

The $115 million campaign, consisting of two spots that broke last week and two breaking next month during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, begin with heartwarming setups that veer off kilter. For example: One shows a high-school graduate insult her best friend for not having Coke. “I never liked you,” she shrieks.

In one of the Olympic ads, a soldier returning home to find his family has no Coke. He berates them and stalks off. In the second Olympics spot, a Chinese exchange student greets her new family with a tentative “Coca-Cola?” Upon hearing there is none, she mutters in Chinese. No subtitles are provided so viewers may wonder if she let fly with the obscenities. (According to Freeman, she says, “Are you kidding? What’s up with that? They are so clueless. I came all this way, and they’re not even prepared!”)

Each of the spots ends with the onscreen advice “Next time … enjoy” and a bottle of Coke against a black backdrop.

“To a foreigner, Coke is America. To a 101-year-old who’s lived with Coke all her life, it’s also America,” says Freeman, referring to a spot in which the matriarch of a large family (played by real-life centenarian Anna Boettger) bellows about her progeny’s failure to provide the soft drink. “What!? I’m 101, and this is probably the last time we get together! We’re supposed to have Coca-Cola!” The family scatters as grandma angrily maneuvers her wheelchair through the crowd.

Freeman’s art imitates life: His own grandmother, who lived to be 101, once punched him in the chest for accusing her of reading Star magazine. “When people get to be that old, they don’t hold back,” he says.

In a departure for the brand, no one is shown drinking the product. But that is “paramount to the storyline,” says Darryl Cobbin, vice president of consumer communications for Coke North America.

The ads follow the recent dictum from Coca-Cola CEO Douglas Daft to “Think local, act local” in portraying the product. “The unexpected 180-degree twist is a more refreshing approach for people in North America,” Cobbin says.

None of the actors are members of SAG/AFTRA. “As an agency, we tend to use real-people types in our ads,” Freeman says. “We go to malls, Elks lodges and old-age homes for casting. We’ve used nonactors before, people who would join SAG after their first commercial.”

A local legend, the spry Boettger has garnered her share of press clippings in Omaha, Neb., where the spot was shot. Still, it was nerve-racking working with someone her age because “they’re so fragile,” Freeman says. “Plus, she was portraying someone who was really pissed off, which is demanding. She was a pretty good sport.”