Coca-Cola is taking a huge step away from soda

Coca-Cola’s new US marketing campaign is yet another sign the company is trying to convince customers it is going healthy.

On Tuesday, Coca-Cola announced that for the first time ever, all Coke Trademark brands — including Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Life — will be featured in a single campaign for the US.

The “Taste the Feeling” campaign replaces the “Open Happiness” program, which has been in place for the last seven years. More importantly, it ends Coca-Cola’s policy of marketing Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Life individually, with their own messages and tag lines.  

“Coca-Cola is one brand with different variants, all of which share the same values and visual iconography,” Coca-Cola CMO Marcos de Quinto said in the announcement of the campaign on Coke’s website. “People want their Coca-Cola in different ways, but whichever one they want, they want a Coca-Cola brand with great taste and refreshment.”

Historically, Coca-Cola has avoided grouping low- and no-calorie Coca-Cola options with the flagship soda, fearing that the inclusion would dilute the brand. The new campaign is intended to unify Coca-Cola products, no matter the calorie count.

While previous campaigns for different Coca-Cola brands targeted specific markets (such as young women for Diet Coke), the message of the unified campaign is that consumers dedicated to Coke can pick whichever variant fits their health needs.

Coca-Cola and other soda companies have come under fire for selling sugary sodas that contribute to obesity. Currently 70% of Americans consume more added sugar than the USDA’s recommended limit, with one third of that sugar coming from sodas.

With American soda consumption down 25% since 1998, Coca-Cola has been scrambling to prove that it can offer healthy options in addition to the sugary soda that made the company famous. In 2014, the American Beverage Association pledged to cut calories in offerings by 20%. So far, calories have been trimmed primarily through smaller packaging and the growth of lower-calorie options.

With a growing demand for lower-calorie drinks, zero-calorie sodas such as Diet Coke seem to be an obvious solution. However, these brands haven’t always produced the projected success, with Diet Coke volume falling 8% in the third quarter, due in part to consumers’ suspicion that diet beverages may be less healthy than they appear. In the same period, Coke Zero’s volume increased 8%.

The campaign also heavily features Coca-Cola glass bottles — a packaging option that is smaller (and lower-calorie) than plastic bottles, and that adds an air of authenticity and history to the beverage. 

While this is a major move to promote Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Life, the new campaign will not include Coca-Cola brands such as coconut water Zico, Minute Maid, and Smartwater.

The campaign will roll out worldwide over the next year. The television ads, six of which launched today, feature a montage of emotionally-linked moments — all of them including Coke products. “Taste the Feeling” will also feature a “campaign anthem” produced by DJ Avicii, featuring singer Conrad Sewell.

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