With the announcement that Coke Zero is being replaced with a new product, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, here’s a look back on how Coke Zero has advertised itself to the public since it debuted in 2005.
The original branding was in a white can, with the tagline “Everybody Chill,” which was not a hit with consumers. A more masculine rebrand, thanks to Coca-Cola New Zealand, brought the familiar black cans.
According to the Coca-Cola website, “an innovative online teaser and guerilla marketing campaign called the ‘Zero Movement’ generated a strong pre-launch buzz” in Australia, and that bled over to the US, which switched to black packaging during the holiday season and adopted a literal tagline: 'Real Coca-Cola Taste and Zero Calories.'
When it debuted, Coke Zero was already being buzzed about, and sample packs even sold on eBay before it was available. Some of the earliest campaigns wanted to portray that the new beverage tasted so much like Coca-Cola that most people couldn’t tell. They used print and billboard campaigns to push the product.
One straightforward ad just begged people to buy it, even if they hadn’t tried it.
Another campaign played up the no-taste difference that lawyers should get involved.
In a 2006 series of ads titled ‘Lawyers,' imposter Coca-Cola brand managers attempted to recruit real Coke attorneys to sue Coke Zero for “taste infringement."
Another early Coke Zero animated spot, roughly 2008, had a finger, tongue, eyeball and brain arguing that Coke Zero tasted like Coke but wasn’t Coke.
As Coke Zero became globally popular, the brand expanded advertising. “Mean Troy” Polamalu reprised the 1979 role of “Mean Joe” Greene in a humorous Coke Zero spot for the Super Bowl in 2009. Coke Zero also had campaigns around other sports, like NASCAR and college football.
Coke Zero also aligned itself with Hollywood productions for films like TRON: Legacy (2010) and the Bond film Quantum of Solace (2011).
In the Spring of 2015, Coke Zero took to the billboards again for a massive campaign through Ogilvy & Mather during March Madness.
Kicking off in Indianapolis during the NCAA Final Four but rolled out nationwide, the campaign got Coke Zero into the hands of consumers through multiple touchpoints, whether drinking from a billboard that dispensed the diet soda through a giant ‘Taste It’ straw or using Shazam during a Coke Zero ad to receive a coupon.
The brand re-launched with a 'Just Add Zero' campaign in 2014, which kept the brand fresh.
In 2015 Coca-Cola pledged to do more with the brand on mobile. By last year Coca-Cola said it didn't want Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to become the new Coke Zero, but it looks like that has become the case, as its trial runs around the globe have made its new marketing more irresistible than Coke Zero.
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