Diet Coke's "You're On" Ad

Diet Coke's "You're On" Ad

Updated May 08, 2014 at 04:22PM EDT by Brad.

Added May 08, 2014 at 12:24PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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Overview

Diet Coke’s “You’re On” was an advertising campaign for the sugar-free brand of Coca Cola which featured the tagline “Diet Coke. You’re On.” Upon its launch in April 2014, the advertisements quickly became a target of online parodies and ridicule due to the ambiguous placement of the phrase “you’re on” directly above the Diet Coke brand logo, giving rise to the misinterpretation of the tagline as a reference to cocaine use (“you’re on Diet Coke”). The campaign was discontinued in May 2014.

Background

Diet Coke’s “You’re On” campaign was created by agency Droga5 and was introduced in February 2014. The print ad campaign featured a list of challenges that can be met with the help of Diet Coke concluding with the tagline “Diet Coke. You’re On.”



Notable Developments

Drug Reference Controversy

On March 2nd, 2014, Gothamist[3] published a post titled "Diet Coke’s Latest Ad Strategy: “You’re On Coke” New Yorkers." which features a roundup of tweets questioning the ad campaign and how the tagline can appear to read “You’re on Coke,” as well as copy for parody ads actually about taking cocaine.



On March 3rd, The New York Observer[2] published an article titled “Badvertising: Doctors Horrified by Coca-Cola’s New Ads Mocking Cocaine Addiction.” The article quotes addiction specialist Dr. Arnold Washton who explained:

““It sounds a little strange to me. To my ears it’s like nails on a chalkboard, because obviously I’ve worked with people dealing with addiction.”


On March 4th, the controversy was covered by The Huffington Post[4], Ad Week[5], and Fast Company[6] the same day. When Ad Week questioned the brand about the campaign they replied:

“This advertising is one part of the new campaign for Diet Coke, which is called ‘You’re On.’ It celebrates ambitious young achievers from all walks of life and reminds them that Diet Coke is there to support them in the moments when they are at their best. 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. The Diet Coke logo is the centerpiece of the ad campaign. Diet Coke in no way endorses or supports the use of any illegal substance.”


Parody

On March 7th, AnimalNewYork[7] published a series of Diet Coke parody ads (shown below). The parody was covered by AdWeek[8].



On March 9th, a group of advertising students from Creative Circus[11] uploaded a parody (below, right) of the “Diet Coke: You’re On,” commercial featuring Taylor Swift (below, left), to a YouTube channel named for the original ad agency Droga5.[13] The original commercial was uploaded to Diet Coke’s YouTube channel on April 11th. As of May 2014, the original video has gained over 620,000 views and the parody video has gained over 9,000 views.



Campaign Halted

On May 7th, 2014, Coke announced they would be replacing[9] the campaign and tagline for one they ran in 1983, “Just for the taste of it.” The same day they uploaded a new commercial for the new campaign to their YouTube channel. The video gained over 1,000 views in less than 24 hours.



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