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How Coca-Cola landed Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill for its Super Bowl spot

Coca-Cola is going Hollywood for its Super Bowl spot, nabbing famed director Martin Scorsese and actor/director Jonah Hill to launch Coca-Cola Energy in a big way.

The 60-second spot, ‘Show Up’ features Scorsese and Hill – with a cameo appearance from Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist YBN Cordae – texting back and forth in order to meet each other at a party.

In it, Scorsese is seen at a costume party looking lost among a crowd of revelers. Cut to Hill lounging on his couch, who gets a text asking if he’s coming. He looks tired and doesn’t want to go. Scorsese waits as he sees the dots of a pending text, which never seem to come. It then becomes a news story as the dots appear everywhere. A reporter wonders, “Is Jonah Hill going to flake out on Martin Scorsese? The world wants to know.”

Things get a bit surreal after that, as three-eyed frogs and YBN Cordae all wonder what Hill will text. Hill then goes to a convenience store and grabs a Coca-Cola Energy. After drinking it he feels sufficiently energized and shows up in time for a big hug by Scorsese.

“Everybody can put themselves in their shoes where one friend is out someplace and the other one is committed to be someplace but is at home and tired, just sitting on the couch and just not really into it,” Geoff Cottrill, senior vice-president of strategic marketing, Coca-Cola North America, told The Drum regarding the idea behind the spot.

How Coke got its stars

While Hill and Scorsese might seem an odd pair, Cottrill says they’re actually friends in real life.

“As we started thinking about casting we immediately – both client and agency (Wieden+Kennedy Portland) – thought that Jonah Hill was the perfect person to cast in this spot. Just who he is and his general disposition, and the fact that he’s kind of a modern renaissance man who’s directing, making films and acting, he’s just an interesting personality.

“We basically said, ‘we need a second person for this spot, do you have a friend you would suggest?’ His team came back and said, ‘yeah, he wants to do it with his buddy.’ We said, ‘ok, who’s that?’ They said, ‘his buddy’s Martin Scorsese.’ We looked at each other across the table and smiled and said ‘ok, we can work with that.’ Then we talked with Martin Scorsese’s team and they were in right away,” Cottrill said.

The set had even more star power with commercial director Ulf Johansson and director of photography (DP) Andrzej Sekula, who shot Pulp Fiction, but Cottrill said the team worked seamlessly together.

“We had an all-star cast on set. And I will say that both Marty and Jonah were complete class acts. Mr Scorsese interacted with everyone on set. In fact, he was showing the extras during a break, he pointed to the DP and said, ‘that guy shot Pulp Fiction, isn’t that cool?’ He was fanning out. He was excited and enjoying the moment…It was a lot of fun to work with him,” he said.

The motivation

Jaideep Kibe, vice-president of Coca-Cola North America, said the concept behind the spot, and the motivation for any Coca-Cola product release, begins with a strong human insight. “In this case, there’s a timeless truth, which is… there’s so much to do, so many places to go, friends to meet, family to hang out with, but you question whether you have the energy. So, when you think of that human insight and think about the innovation of Coca-Cola Energy, which has a very simple promise at its heart – the energy you want and the taste you love – what this communication does is create a space for us, and that space is called ‘Show Up’.

“We’re showing up at Super Bowl, on the biggest stage to energize our consumers. But we’re also going to show up at different times through the whole year as people get their first tastes of Coke Energy,” said Kibe.

‘Show Up Monday’

While the Super Bowl is Coca-Cola Energy’s big showcase, the brand plans an even bigger day on the Monday following the game, which is a day when many people call in sick or end up being somewhat useless at work due to ‘Super Bowl fever’.

“We’re creating ‘Show Up Monday’, and we’ll be at places like Grand Central Station, helping commuters who are kind of dragging have a little extra energy to get themselves to work,” said Cottrill.

“We’re also working with Amazon and their Treasure Truck program. So, we’re going to be doing big sampling in 29 major markets around the country. Customers can also order Coca-Cola Energy through Alexa by saying, 'Alexa, order Coke Energy, We’re going to continue the idea of reinforcing ’Show Up’.”

Cottrill added that the campaign will touch all media, including social, digital video, TV and out of home.

“’Show Up Monday’ will be one of the biggest sampling days in the history of our brand. We will be in full force, helping people show up to wherever they’re going, whether they go to work or not,” he concluded.

Follow The Drum's ongoing Super Bowl coverage here.

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