Back from my holiday and first thing I stumble upon on adverblog is this recommandation of Coca Cola Zero’s advergame Coke Zero Rooftop Racer. As I eagerly try it out I soon find out that trying to balance a coke zero on the roof of a nascar racer isn’t my idea of fun. But it makes me linger a moment, doing some much needed, back-from-tour-de-france-watching-mode thinking on the branding of diet coke and coca cola zero.

First of all, let’s have a look at the two beverages themselves – how similar are they in the way they are produced and the way they taste? Diet Coke is sweetened with the artificial sweetener Aspartame, while Coke Zero is sweetened with a mix of Apartame and Acesulfame Potassium. So both are free of sugar and calories. What else is new? Well, to me and many others they taste similar, but the official statement is that Diet Coke is based on a genuinly new syrup formula, while the Zero is based on the original Coca Cola formula. But no big difference here, either.

 So how come women tend to prefer diet coke, while men prefer coca cola zero? It’s quite simple, just open your eyes and look at the different branding of two similar, sugarfree coca cola products.

 When you compare the commercials and ads, what immediately gets obvious is the hughe emphasis on gender and the idea of a specific masculine and a specific feminine way of living and thinking. The masculine Zero was launched with the “A Taste Of Life As It Should Be” tv ad-series.They all center on a young male main character, who experiences meeting his ex-girlfriend with her new boyfriend or breaking up with a girlfriend “as it should be”, involving half-naked dancing, horny women, big motorbikes, choppers and lots of explosions.  explosion.jpg

Diet Coke, on the other hand, target women with their Light It Up tv ad. Our female main character is out rollerskating, drinking diet coke on a sunny day to a groovy, happy soundtrack. She’s having lots of fun with her primarily female friends, focusing on the social aspect of living.  

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The two products’ homepages only underline this masculine vs. feminine branding. While Zero’s homepage is held in dark colors and features the above-mentioned racer game and news and clips on Nascar, Diet Coke’s homepage is held in silver and white colors, while clearly showing Diet Cokes partnership with The Heart Truth, a natinoal U.S. awareness campaign for women on heart disease.  

 Well, obviously none of the above is rocket science. Not at all. But I still find it noteworty that we consumers buy these classical masculine vs. feminine values through preferring either the masculine Zero of the feminine Diet Coke. Once again, branding and the theory of symbolic surplus value show their effective teeth.

I’m looking forward to see if we consumers buy the same concept, if danish dairy product giant Arla launch both a masculine and a feminine low-fat milk. Yummie!

Good to be back // Jakob