Diet Coke: No, Our Ads Aren’t Drug References
Diet Coke’s new ad campaign, which features the tagline “you’re on,” is drawing criticism for appearing to reference drugs. But the company dismisses such talk.
“Diet Coke in no way endorses or supports the use of any illegal substance,” a statement from the company reads. Instead, “you’re on” is meant to remind young achievers that “Diet Coke is there to support them in the moments when they are at their best,” according to the statement. “Every single day, young people around the world experience ‘You’re On’ moments big and small. It could be a job interview or a national TV interview, a first date or a final exam, a presentation to your boss or a performance in front of thousands.”
A TV ad in the campaign, which features Taylor Swift, underscored that theme. The ad features a montage of moments, such as a best man’s wedding toast, in which young people assuage their performance anxiety with a sip of Diet Coke. The ad culminates with Swift, sitting in front of a mirror, being told it’s time to perform.
The cola giant launched the campaign, created by Droga5, in early February at the launch of the Sochi Winter Olympics. Droga5 is know as a somewhat edgy agency; some of its past projects include “Hot Malms,” a fake porn site for IKEA beds, and a 2006 Mark Ecko campaign that was designed to trick fans into believing someone tagged Air Force One with graffiti.
After the launch, several people alleged that the agency and the brand might be offering a subliminal cocaine pun. Stark outdoor ads appear to highlight such a possibility.
— NewYork TaxiCab (@aNYTaxiCab) February 26, 2014
“You’re on coke.”
— John McDermott (@mcdermott) February 24, 2014
Diet Coke sales fell 3% by volume in 2012, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest. Across the board, sales of diet sodas are down as consumers grow wary of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is used in Diet Coke. The concern prompted the brand to launch a campaign last year reassuring consumers about the sweetener’s safety.