Sunday, January 08, 2006

How many ad agencies does it take to patronise a demographic?

Only one, apparently

Have you seen the The Zero Movement? The blog of a group of activists who aims to to "rid the world of all the negative consequences that limit us all"[1]. If you believe their slick website, they want you to help them solve the world's biggest crises, namely: "Why can't new years come with zero resolutions?"[2] and "Why don't women consider everything small "soooooo cute"?" [3].

Yes, earth shattering stuff.

In care you hadn't sniffed a lame marketing attempt two miles away, a check of their domain's ownership details shows that the whole thing is owned by Coca Cola South Pacific (see the screen grab below).

The Zero Movement, it would seem, is the launch campaign for Coca Cola's latest offering, Coke Zero, a product designed to appeal to the male 'yoof' demographic who avoid Coca Cola because of its dangerously high sugar content, but don't want to look like Diet Coke swilling sissies.

So why are we bothering to point this out to the world? After all, guerilla marketing and multinationals posing as rebellious groups is by no means a new tactic, just check out the latest rash of campaigns for Sony and Microsoft's games consoles. In fact this kind of advertising has almost become a trademark of uncreative advertising agencies desperate to gain cut-through to an increasingly apathetic market.

"If we look cool and act like a fringe outfit that deserves their respect," you can see the agency's Creative Director's pitch to Coca Cola's marketing team going, "maybe they'll give it to us!"

"What's cool among the kids these days?" he booms to the market researcher.

"Um, well," market research gimp stammers while consulting the latest Sputnik or Look-Look report."Well, blogs, and stuff. Like graffiti. And rebellion. And sticking it to the, you know, man."

"Well let's do a bit of all of that! Let's have a blog, do some graffiti and write about how provocative we are."

But in co-opting the trademarks of the counter-culture--blogs, street art and a passionate cause--to promote an artifically sweetened cocktail of chemicals and flavourings, Coca Cola is demeaning its target market. We don't want an ad agency forming our life philosophy. We don't want a group of soft drink executives trying to tell us how to live our lives. We just want Coca Cola to 'fess up to the fact that it's a profit-driven multinational whose only interest in culture change is the carefully researched chord it might strike into its consumer base.

Coca Cola, welcome to the underground. As others have found out, it's not always comfortable.


Blogger Jester999 said...

Each to their own - I thought it was kind of funny - even if it is just for a softdrink....

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

two big thumbs up!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Hornblower said...

Nice. BUT.

"because of it's dangerously high sugar content" should be "its dangerously...."

"demeaning it's audience" should be "its audience"

"it's a profit-driven multinational" - hey, you got that one RIGHT!!!!

"it's target market" - ooops, should be "its target market"

"it's not always comfortable" - yay, you finished with a correct one!

Apostrophe Angst

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Yaya said...

Great Stuff! I guess as a 21 year old Australian guy I fit their target market, but you'd never catch me dead with a can of Coke Zero in my hand. In fact I reckon buy Coke Zero shows your too much of a wuss to actually admit you're a "Diet Coke swilling sissy"!

Brave men drink Diet Coke. Real men drink water.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The drink tastes pretty bad too.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anybody know the name of the ad agency that came up with this "viral" ad?

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hah hah great site
coke sux
real men drink pepsi max

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

middle-aged advertising wankers trying to 'crack the youth code' makes me sick and uneasy reading the rubbish

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not only patronise a demographic but encourage illegal activity. Their website proudly exibits their street graffitti. I hope coke offers to clean up all the graffitti around melbourne that thier "creative advertising" inspires, or if they wanna be really cool, they could offer to pay all of melbournes "taggers" fines.

ps. apostrophe angst: the apostrophe is dead, along with correct spelling!

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this site sucks. I'm female, nearly 30, and I love Coke Zero.
How pathetic do you have to be to come up with this shit site? You don't even get your spelling or grammar correct, let alone your information.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pepsi is crap, SUCKS more and is a BAD COPY of Coke. So why don’t you get a decent campaign instead of bagging the competition. Or is that what all sore loosers do?

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GI don’t think Pepsi could ever come up with anything that could create such contraversy.
You guys are just doing exactly what companies like COKE want. Repeating their bloody name! Over and over again. Admitedly I don’t like any substitute for 27 teaspoons of sugar in my softdrink, needless to say I don’t drink it very often. But “you can’t beat that great taste of Coke”!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“the real thing’
This site was apparently created by pepsi – max taste zero sugar lots of jealousy!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coke sucks sooooo bad , i hate the stuff, give me a slab of pepsi max any day ,,,go into a supermarket or Big W and the pepsi is always gone yet the coke, coke zero , flavoured cokes are always full no one buys the shit,


7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these Pepsi heads are missing the point. Pepsi Max is just as bad for you as Coke. This site isn't about Pepsi versus Coke, it's about decrying the zero movement campign which insults its target consumer and has abused the trust of the world's bloggers.

Not only has Coke damaged the credibility of its product, its brand and its subsequent campaigns (jesus I hate that "sponsor a fully grown man" bullshit), it has put another notch on the bedpost of internet cynics.

I'm sick of people commercialising and subseuqntly raping the underground. Just when I start to enjoy the next new thing it's co-opted by cool hunters and thrown back in my face by Axel Whitehead. Goddammit!

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:15 PM  
Anonymous InternetBrowser said...

Man, Whoever is logging in as anonymous, sying comnplete random stuff should just shut the **** up.
Coca-Cola is better than Pepsi, and your link to the webpage is inaccurate. Pepsi is so much evil altogether. Drink Coke because Coke never wants to do anything bad Pepsi does

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We just want Coca Cola to 'fess up to the fact that it's a profit-driven multinational" ~Jay

Wait, wait, wait... Coca Cola makes money? Why, what sort of business does a thing like that, is there no decency? Perhaps you'd prefer communism.

To you I say, grow up, get laid, move out of your parents basement and move on, she's sleeping with other guys.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, one must love this anti corporatist movement of yours, you really are up to something. what about your next move? feeding birth control pills to pigeons? saving the planet? get a life. i'm a male in my mid 20's and i like the idea behind the campaign.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Shoram said...


6:19 PM  
Blogger hesslei said...

I was always struck by the intractable divide between what clients wanted and what agencies wanted to give them. I concluded that good advertising was the result of this inherent tension: the agency’s job to unearth insight and craft it into a persuasive piece of communication, the client’s to ensure that the agency’s art remained true to the business goal. Back then business could take the long view.


Internet Marketing

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of these comments are pretty stupid... like if no one buys coke where the fuck did they get all their money from you wanker. also coke dosent suck neither does pepsi,
the one that does taste like shit is dr pepper, even still havent seen that in a few years... and the people saying that coke sucks and you should drink water instead, did you even read the zero movment! this is what they are tring to get yo to do! idiot...
and anyway who gives a fuck really, what you guys care so fucken much that a business is trying to give people water. i suppose that is pretty evil, you know considering no one drink the shit anyway. mix it with cordial or buy some powerade or pepsi. their not evil you dickhead! fuck off their supporting graffiti, their tring to appeal to the younger generation to support them.
without the young generation, lets face the truth older people would be screwed. you dont want to admit this but it is true. in the end they are a business tring to give people water and make money.... max,

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your a googlewhack!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Papantoniou said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Papantoniou said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

well im sure coke have there bloggers out there trying to do good for all this bad they really do cause. Large multi nationals getting away with everything, Coke, Mosanto, Du pont the list goes on....this is corporate prostitution as our government officials do nothing but get rich and richer of the people who are being lied to....this world is a dirty toiletbowl

5:28 PM  

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