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Breaking the FMCG mold without breaking your brand connection

By Robyn McKane |



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June 23, 2021 | 6 min read

FMCG megabrands Coca-Cola and Jaffa Cakes launched new campaigns in early 2021 with the aim of breaking the mold, highlighting their individual uniqueness.

Opinium question whether Jaffa Cakes and Coca-Cola's new ads broke the mould or went too far.

Opinium questions whether Jaffa Cakes and Coca-Cola’s new ads broke the mold or went too far

Coca-Cola’s ‘Open that Coca-Cola’ focuses on showcasing their unique and refreshing taste. Meanwhile, Jaffa Cakes’s ‘Be what you want to be’ (its first solo TV ad in 15 years) plays on its defiance in the biscuit category by opening up the ageless debate of ‘is it a cake or a biscuit?’

The question is, did they manage to break the mold, or did they go just a little too far? Insight Agency Opinium’s AdVantage team, specializing in creative optimization, investigated...

‘Be who you want to be’ inspires the young and frustrates older audiences

The playful energy of Jaffa Cakes’s latest campaign comes through well, with a third of viewers feeling amusement and a quarter feeling happiness (raised significantly among those aged 18-34). Younger viewers are more likely to express feelings of inspiration and hope, enjoying the positive messaging around ‘following your passions’.


“I loved that the man got to fulfil his dream in his imagination and feel inspired to go for it.”

However, the advert evokes stronger negative reactions amongst older viewers, such as anger and disgust, mainly through feeling it was too ‘silly’ and not focusing enough on the product itself.

“Annoying and strange, also we can’t all be what we want to be, seems a bit patronisingly woke.”

‘Open that Coca-Cola’ misses the mark on messaging

Coca-Cola’s campaign set out to visualize the indescribable experience of drinking Coke through uncontrollable dancing and facial expressions after taking a sip. But it seems this message was not clear, with a fifth of viewers not understanding what the advert was trying to tell them, underperforming against Opinium’s benchmark.

The wild dancing and visuals may be giving off a different message, associated with Coca-Cola’s high sugar content, explaining why over one in 10 UK adults felt disgust towards the ad.

“It’s an ad for an unhealthy drink, which is becoming increasingly less relevant in today’s society.”

In addition, the advert does not fit with existing impressions, with only over half of viewers feeling that the advert fits well with what they think of Coca-Cola, scoring lower than benchmarks.


“I don’t exactly know why, I usually like the Coca-Cola adverts, but this particular one just created an unpleasant feel within me...”

While both ads are felt to be different, this does not appear to have had the intended positive impact on their brand. So, is it possible to stand out while remaining true to the brand and connecting with consumers? In short, yes.

We previously evaluated Vimto’s ‘I see Vimto in you’ campaign, where viewers are asked to close their eyes while soothing music is played. Disobedient viewers are treated to a host of weird and wonderful visuals, while subtitles speak directly to the viewer telling them they deserve something “refreshingly different”.

This rather unusual ad was successful in highly engaging viewers, outperforming both benchmarks and the Coca-Cola/Jaffa Cakes ads, while also scoring highly on difference.

The ad engages viewers through comedy, with it scoring higher on being funny than both Jaffa Cakes and Coca-Cola’s ads. But its comedy that makes sense. Its quirkiness is reflected in the language used throughout, speaking directly to their audience who, by disobeying, are breaking the mold and therefore helping to build a brand connection and sticking in consumers’ minds.


“It was very different and memorable. The format with the guy asking you to close your eyes which would mean some may miss the advert was funny and I’d remember it distinctly.”

How could Coca-Cola and Jaffa Cakes have gained their AdVantage?

  1. Make the weird make sense – the Jaffa Cakes ad was the opener for a long-running campaign of new innovations, but by launching with the classic variant alone, the visual demonstration of ‘being anything you want to be’ didn’t make sense to all.

  2. Eliminate misleading connotations – Coca-Cola’s ad wanted to demonstrate its indescribably unique taste through non-verbal cues, however by not being explicit in these, this was misconstrued with a potentially negative link to sugar content instead.

  3. Connect with your viewers – Vimto’s ad surprised and delighted their ‘disobedient’ viewers by speaking directly to them and creating a strong sense of connection and engagement.

Find out more about Opinium’s AdVantage creative optimization tool here.

Robyn McKane is research manager at Opinium.

Media Digital Advertising Agency

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Opinium is an award winning strategic insight agency built on the belief that in a world of uncertainty and complexity, success depends on the ability to stay on the pulse of what people think, feel and do. Creative and inquisitive, we are passionate about empowering our clients to make the decisions that matter.

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