Dear Coke

Dear Coke

You introduced a new positioning earlier this year. In the words of your CMO: “the bigness of Coca-Cola resides in the fact that it’s a simple pleasure — so the humbler we are, the bigger we are. We’re going from ‘Open Happiness’ to exploring the role Coca-Cola plays in happiness – ‘Taste the Feeling’. We make simple, everyday moments more special.” I liked it a lot: you simply and honestly took the proposition down to earth, and crafted it to express and support a fact more than spinning it. Add the unpretentiously sophisticated visuals about ‘refreshment’ and ‘happiness’ and you got everything you need to say. And just as an aside, interesting similarities with Nutella’s spread the happy: Coca-Cola is a not-good-for-you sugary drink and Nutella is a not-good-for-you chocolatey spread, but both are widely loved nevertheless. Spread the Happy is a mix of Open Happiness and Taste the Feeling — I wonder when Ferrero will start thinking “Nutella is a simple pleasure, so the humbler we are, the bigger we are.” and evolve their positioning too. But I’m digressing.

Coke, you are a brown sugary drink, one that is liked because humans (such as myself) like cold sugary liquids. Nothing more, nothing less. And for a time span of at least my generation you had a conscience, and your message was tasteful: “while I of course know I’m bad for you, I propose myself as a young&happy break – and stop there.” (sure, here and there you did show a burger or two, but you thread lightly on the issue.) But I guess that recently your people sat in a conference room and … let’s see, what were the words used … oh yes: “… need growth … broaden usage occasions … increase consumption … Refreshment positioning is not enough … extend brand equities …” You briefed an ad agency, and voila’ – here’s the new Coke-as-ideal-food-companion campaign.

You are aware of your crass disregards for the social implications of your message, right? You are bad for people, and you know it; not as bad as cigarettes or McD (given your messaged ‘refreshing pause’ frequency), but still not good. Now you’re not only telling me (and the marketplace, and all the young people in it) to drink you for refreshing fun, but also with my meals – basically, all day long. What happened to “the humbler we are, the bigger we are?” I hate when people (and brands) don’t walk the talk. Can’t wait for your callous marketers to take advantage of the demise of orange juice and refreshingly tell me to have a Coke instead of the morning coffee, or maybe even a tasty 4pm Coke & Scones.

Y’know, Nutella overstepped its boundaries and paid a $3MM fine for doing so. What you are doing is not fine-able unfortunately, but … you lost me as a customer: I bought into your brand’s promise, stance, character, and conscience, and now you’re sacrificing all that for a few (or maybe a lot) more dollars.

Goodbye Coke — it’s been fun while it lasted.