Another Diet Coke ad is on our screens (see past, equally bad, iterations below). Cue thousands of viewers rifling through their phones, searching for an emoji that captures the visual essence of “stunned silence”. Or parents turning to their kids to ask if they like I, to be met with a barrage of furious 15-year-olds feeling they've had their intelligence insulted even being asked.
It’s not the worst ad ever: that belongs to Pants Man, spawn of the marketing challenge on The Apprentice. Pepsi and Kendall Jenner probably trump it for simply holding up a mirror to a generation’s Instagram feed. But it is hard to see it as much better.
The fact Coke has created this ad amplifies its woes, as it has a long and proud history leading the zeitgeist.
There is an obvious pressure in the corridors of Coke that the business is going backwards not forwards, and perhaps this constant pressure creates an alien atmosphere in which to create the best work.
Although, if ever there was an ad born from an alien atmosphere it’s this. It’s less of an ad and more of an invitation to view a species from another planet. A planet which is populated by aliens who have been studying humans, especially youth, in great detail.
They have processed a trillion megabytes of social listening data to programme their own humanlike clones. They are spot on these clones, every box is ticked. They are smiley, they are optimistic, they are confident, they are experience orientated and socially driven blogger outreach influenced. They are the one-dimensional mood board of Siobhan from W1A. These clones are totally Sla, So Like Awesome.
The problem with clones, for those that have ever looked into them, is that while they look amazingly authentic, they can’t feel love and emotion. Not a problem! Coke has programmed the clones' hard drives with things they believe youngish humans love. And they appear to resemble a Christmas list written while drinking LSD-laced sherry.
- Diet Coke
- Exotic Mangos
- DIY Furniture
- Aerial Yoga
- Friends Who Leave Voicemails
- Diet Coke again
No doubt these are loaded with hidden meaning that is beyond my comprehension, but whatever that meaning is, it’s completely undermined by starting an ad for Diet Coke by saying: 'I like Diet Coke, it’s super good.'
You just can’t do that.
The same level of intelligence required to work out the link between mangos, yoga and leaving voicemails is also deeply repulsed by such a crude lunge of asserting how great Diet Coke is in the first 10 seconds of the spot.
This is compounded by a need to project great swagger and a 'deal with it' attitude when delivering this list of things pulled off the LSD crimbo list. So we get told in rapid-fire that Diet Coke is super good, followed by the most random collection of references of all time, and then we are told to 'deal with it', 'like what you like' and the sentiment is 'because I can'.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is the actual dialogue:
“Here’s the deal
“I like Diet Coke
“It’s super good
“And now they have flavours, like exotic mango
Has a swig.
“Umm yeah, I'm totally into this
“Just like I'm into Do it Yourself furniture
“Aerial yoga...maybe you're into friends who leave voicemails? I know I am.
“Look. You’ve just got to like what you like, like I like Diet Coke.
"Diet Coke. Because I Can."
It makes such little effort to make you believe it for even a nanosecond.
'Like what you like' is an interesting thought. That could be the voice of a new generation. But not when really it says, 'Like what you like, as long as it's Exotic Flavoured Mango Diet Coke, and it's super good, and yeah I am totally into it.'
Why is any of this credible to believe? Oh because you also like DIY furniture. Job done.
I feel bad being this harsh. But this is polluting my TV screen and it makes my profession look incredibly uncreative and lazy. Every time it comes on I pause it to show my teenage children how I'd prefer them not to communicate to the world. That’s after they removed their heads from under the cushions because it is so cringe.
So, no, on reflection I don’t feel bad after all. I like what I like. And that is work that has intelligence and makes a real effort to persuade me. And so do 99% of the planet, whatever age you are.
Matt Charlton is chief executive at Brothers and Sisters. He tweets on @MJCharltonesq
Here are more of the ads from the same Diet Coke campaign.