New tack for Diet Coke

Diet Coke has said goodbye to the 1980s and has launched a new marketing strategy with a '90s point of view.The impetus behind the glitzy 'Just For The Taste Of It' campaigns, which reflected the high consumption of the 'me' decade,...

Diet Coke has said goodbye to the 1980s and has launched a new marketing strategy with a ’90s point of view.

The impetus behind the glitzy ‘Just For The Taste Of It’ campaigns, which reflected the high consumption of the ‘me’ decade, has been replaced with a move to target an aging population, more and more concerned with the quality of life.

The new theme, ‘Taste It,’ paired with the tagline, ‘One Awesome Calorie,’ are part of a new approach that has been eight months in the making, and the result of extensive research conducted across Canada.

Marilyn Mersereau, director of marketing, brands for Coca-Cola Canada, says the new direction is meant to show ‘the broader prospective’ of today’s consumer.

‘They’re stepping back, taking time out and getting a little more balance in their lives,’ Mersereau says. ‘They want to get more out of life, and enjoy life to the fullest.

‘Demographics are changing,’ she says. ‘As people get older, they’re re-evaluating, and finding that different things are important. There’s a new awareness of a healthier lifestyle.

Mensereau says that is reflected in an increased demand from consumers for diet drinks to replace the once-favored sugared drinks.

She says that if Coca-Cola does not change with the times, giving consumers what they want, ‘there will be plenty of others ready to fill the gap.’

The ‘Taste It’ campaign represents a new direction in more ways than one.

It is the first time Canadian advertising for one of Coca-Cola’s big three brands – Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite – has not fallen into line with the u.s. program.

Although advertising is directionally the same and visually similar on both sides of the border, the slogan ‘Taste It All’ is used in the u.s. instead.

Mersereau says ‘Taste It’ elicited much more positive response in focus groups in English Canada and in Quebec.

As well, it is a call to action that puts more emphasis on the product.

The French-language slogan literally translates to ‘Taste Life.’

Mersereau says Coca-Cola’s decision to use different creative in Canada is all part of the ‘think globally, act locally’ theory endorsed by top Coca-Cola officials at the recent Canadian Congress of Advertising in Toronto.

She says Coca-Cola is represented in 189 countries, adding the products have a universal appeal but must be marketed in a local style and manner to make them successful.

In this case, she says the campaign is designed to make the product more meaningful to Canadians.

All of Diet Coke’s tv weight is devoted to introducing the new strategy.

Sixty-second tv spots were produced by Lintas New York, with input from Diet Coke’s Canadian agency, MacLaren: Lintas, Toronto, which also handled the support materials.

To support its theme of quality living in the ’90s, one spot, ‘Exclamation,’ shows some people, such as a clergyman who surfs and a surgeon who sculpts, living their lives as ‘an exclamation’ and enjoying activities which fulfil them personally outside the workplace.

The new direction has been fully integrated into all elements of the marketing mix: tv, point-of-sale, radio and promotion.

The theme and tagline figure prominently on cans and other packaging.

‘One Awesome Calorie’ has also been spun off into ‘One Awesome Contest,’ a promotion, designed to kick off the new look, which is giving away more than $5 million in prizes, including cash, T-shirts and 100 free trips.


The contest features trips appealing to the new Diet Coke target group, and its desire to get more out of life: white-water rafting in the Grand Canyon, deep-sea fishing in Mexico, hot-air ballooning, and skiing in Colorado.

Mersereau says the trips were chosen because ‘they focus on the physical as well as the spiritual. They have the same feel as the advertising is trying to portray.’

A heavy radio schedule for ‘One Awesome Contest’ gets under way this week.

Diet Coke’s promotion agency is M Promotional Marketing of Toronto.

Mersereau says it was also important to the company to share the marketing changes and the reasons behind the new strategy with its employees.

Before the launch, Diet Coke marketers took a couple of weeks to stage more than 70 plant rallies at which the new advertising was unveiled.