This new commercial from beverage giant Coca-Cola is a perfect demonstration of what I call the mindless message technique. Using a split-screen presentation and vintage Tom Jones music, we see a sepia-toned flashback to the 50s in direct contrast to a typical day today. If you look carefully, you’ll see that Grandpa ate less, spent more time outdoors, was more physically active, etc. You’ll also notice the similarities. Both men work in an office, are in a relationship, and have busy lives. So far, so fuzzy. Then the wrap-up: Live Like Grandpa Did. And the push for sugar-free Coca-Cola Zero.
The mindless message: Grandfather and grandson have been enjoying Coke (and life) together for ages. Coca-Cola Zero will help you get back to a simpler time and a better way of life.
The reality: Coca-Cola Zero contains phosphoric acid, which leaches calcium from our bones. It also contains aspartame, which is a known carcinogenic. Not to mention phosphoric acid, which is the ingredient that can dissolve a rusty nail in just four days. You’ve heard that story, haven’t you? Then there’s its preservative (although what they’re preserving, I’m not sure) potassium benzoate, labelled a carcinogenic. Even the caramel colouring has been linked with cancer. Of course, you’d have to drink a lot to do serious damage to your body. Believe it or not, some people do. The courts in New Zealand agreed that this woman died from drinking an excessive amount of Coca-Cola. And in some third-world countries, soft drinks are priced lower than water to encourage sales. Speaking of sales, the best-selling Coca-Cola Zero last year was Cherry, indicating that it satisfies a craving for sweet stuff versus refreshment. (Soft drinks don’t quench my thirst, it seems they leave me wanting more, which makes sense from the marketer’s point of view.)
The smart shopper: Is it the fizz or the sweetness that you crave? If it’s the fizz, then fizzy water is a smart alternative. If it’s the sweetness, then you have a world of options, many of them healthier and cheaper. Ever try carbonated water with natural maple or agave syrup flavouring? Why not?
Think about it.