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Influencers Brand Strategy Coke

Tasty enough to steal? Coca-Cola Zero Sugar taps influencers to tempt Gen Z to #TakeATaste

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By Kenneth Hein, US Editor

February 1, 2023 | 5 min read

Looking to lure more new teen drinkers, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has tapped six global influencers to promote the trial of one of its fastest-growing products.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar

Coke is taking a decidedly different tack to attract new drinkers. / Coca-Cola

It’s happened to many of us. You reach into the fridge and that last Coke is gone. Playing off of this phenomenon, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is launching a global influencer-led campaign called #TakeATaste. While the cola giant isn’t necessarily endorsing outright theft, it is looking to compel teen drinkers to give one of its best-selling sodas a shot.

To do so, it has enlisted six global influencers and equipped them with “security cans,” which include a camera. A teaser video, to be released on Instagram and TikTok, shows footage of people swiping their favorite beverage. The influencers are Rickey Thompson plus Jay and Sharon (US), The Dew Sisters (Asia), Yammy (Pan-Euro), Elsa Majimbo (Africa) and Dani Valle (Latin America).

Other activities include an animated short, posters, experiential activations and TV spot running during March Madness in the US. Two mobile games featuring characters called “The Taste Takers” will offer codes for a free sample. The visual identity was designed by British Illustrator Jack Teagle. WPP Open X (led by AKQA and Ogilvy) handled the campaign.

All of this is meant to keep the spotlight on Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Caffeine Free products and the “Best Coke ever?” rallying cry. The ads conclude with Coke’s overarching “Real Magic” tagline.

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Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which was reformulated in 2021, has been one of the company’s strongest performers. Dollar sales were up 30% across all retail channels for the first nine months in Coke’s core US market, per Beverage Digest. “It’s pulling in new users into soft drinks,” says Duane Stanford, editor, Beverage Digest. “Coca-Cola Zero is all about the next generation of consumers.”

PepsiCo has clearly taken note. It announced Pepsi Zero Sugar will receive a spot during the Super Bowl LVII. “There will be a real battle here,” says Stanford. “It’s a whole new cola war.”

Yet, the weapons have changed this time around. Whereas the cola giants primarily went head-to-head on TV in the past, Coke is bringing the fight to social media.

“It’s about having Coca-Cola Zero continue to be one of the engines for growth for the company,” says Coca-Cola Trademark president Selman Careaga. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes about which influencer to partner with and how to keep the message fresh and authentic. [Influencers] provide scale and credibility as long as it is done the right way.”

A new Coca-Cola Creations product based on Coke Zero will drop in a couple of weeks. (Past flavors tasted like dreams, outer space and pixels.) This will be followed up with an expanded global food service and aggregators’ ‘Magic Weekends’ program. Many more partners, including DoorDash, Rappi and Uber Eats, will dangle special offers. “You can expect to see some of the things we did last year with a much bigger scale,” says Careaga.

Along the way, the Coke trademark will have its sights firmly set on younger consumers. “Everything we do on the Coke trademark is about engaging with youth. Everything has a fun, light-hearted tone. It’s experience-first, not traditional content-first,” says Oana Vlad, senior director of global strategy for The Coca-Cola Company.

For Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, we can expect to see the #TakeATaste platform to evolve with camouflage books (in which to hide your beverage), in-fridge containers and the like. “We are looking to scale the idea of protecting your Coca-Cola Zero Sugar because it is so craveable,” says Vlad. “This is done in a tongue-in-cheek way ... We aren’t condoning stealing.”

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