Despite the edginess, Coca-Cola’s ‘Real Magic’ campaign is one from the heart

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Coca-Cola: youth, gaming, make-up – but the same call to our humanity

The advertising world is looking at Coca-Cola’s new platform very closely. This is one of the world’s most iconic brands. It has built this status by regularly tapping into the mood of the day. So a new advertising claim, Coca-Cola branding and platform is Very Big News Indeed.

Before going any further check the embedded video.

Let’s look at what has changed.

Coke goes indoor, dark and edgy

First, the spot opens on an e-sports arena, where a large indoor crowd is watching players battle it out. An ogre-like character is knocked out. His player reaches into a fridge for a Coke. The ogre wakes up and decides to throw away his axe and help an adversary. Shock.

Cue multiple shots across the world as mostly young people – some wearing make-up – register their surprise. The majority are interiors, and the rare outdoor shot is a night scene. All this is wrapped in an orchestral soundtrack with an epic feel that leads to the ogre and player exchanging appreciative glances.

Gone are the smiling gangs of teens/young adults, the boy/girl interaction, the sunny decors, outdoor scenes and sheer brightness of Coca-Cola. This is an individualistic world, where the connection comes from watching violent games separately.

Lastly, there’s no jingle!

Now let’s look at what has not changed.

Coca-Cola branding
Note the bendy new/old logo

Coke still aims for a warm, fizzy feeling

The logo is almost the same, having just undergone a slight bend to echo how we see it on bottles and cans.

The title “Real Magic” repeats the concept that drinking Coca-Cola is a transformative action.

Most significantly, the tagline, “One Coke Away From Each Other” underlines the essential positioning of Coke as a shared experience – a warm, fizzy feeling. While recognising that we are “away from each other”, all we have to do to connect is open a Coke. Does this match the mood of the day? I’d say it does, very much so.

What is not clear from the visuals is that Coke is also redefining how it reaches its Gen Z target audience. They are notably hooking up with streaming channel Twitch, at the expense of some broadcast media. They are also going to gamify some of the campaign. If I wanted to reach 2.9 billion gamers, I would do something like this as well.

Coke is reportedly trying to claw back relevance as the global lockdown affected sales considerably. I’m sure that played into the reasoning, but I also feel that you don’t build a 5-year plan on a one-off (we hope) slump. So Coke was probably cooking this platform for some time already.

So will things go better for Coke now? Your thoughts are welcome below.