You’re on (Diet) Coke

We’ve all heard the tale that Coca-Cola’s recipe once included cocaine in it’s purest form… Could the company be channeling their drug heritage in their most recent ad campaign?

The tagline of the new campaign (“You’re on. Diet Coke.”) could be referring to drug use.  Most people read the ads to say “You’re on Coke” because of the position of the slogan and the logo.  The ad company responsible, “Droga5,” has gained a lot of attention in the media for this provocative campaign. By chance, “drogas” is also the Spanish word for drugs… Was the message of this ad just a coincidence or did Coca-Cola intentionally reference cocaine in their campaign?

Coca-Cola claims the “you’re on” slogan “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.”  The company assures that their message does not condone the use of any illegal substances.  One of the ads reads, “All you’ve got is a tight deadline, a nose, and a grindstone” which could also sound a lot like ingesting cocaine…  Intentional or not, these ads definitely come across to some as references to drug use.

Many people have taken to twitter and social media mocking the campaign.  In response to this, Animal New York made exaggerated recreations of the posters that portrayed what everyone was actually thinking (shown below).

As one would expect, Coca-Cola is now receiving a lot of publicity over the real and fake advertisements.  In my opinion, I don’t think the allusions to cocaine in the real Coca-Cola ads could be accidental.  In a large marketing firm with such an important client, I highly doubt that a reference like this could have been overlooked.  Whether or not the ad campaign was intentional, the posters and billboards are definitely attracting a lot of negative attention to Coca-Cola.



11 thoughts on “You’re on (Diet) Coke

  1. This sounds like something that is going viral and a lot bigger than it has to be. I knew about the cocaine thing but it was so long ago that I had forgotten about it. This campaign did not make me think of that. Very interesting to see how things can possibly go viral and “make truth” in something that may or may not be… Good post!


  2. I actually think this is really funny. I feel as though coke didn’t originally intend for their message to be taken this way but, I also think they are okay with it being taken this way. Its a little edgy but, thats exactly why the message is going viral whether it was their intention or not.


  3. My first thought was that it was a drug reference, but I could care less if it is. Diet Coke is addictive in its own way, and plus it’s a catchy slogan.


  4. I actually think this is really funny but unintentionally from the company. I don’t think they planned to use their past drug history to advertise their brand but it definitely comes off that way and it can be offensive to some and just humorous to others. I think this is just a good representation of bad and careless advertising.


  5. I feel like something so obvious has to be intentional. Pulling this type of stunt is a great way to get people talking about the brand, and a lot of people seem to be enjoying it!


  6. Pingback: You're on (Diet) Coke | Loyola Digital Advertising | New, Health and BeautyNew, Health and Beauty

  7. These ads are certainly eye catching and are humorous and will appeal to some people. Unfortunately I see this campaign having serious back lash especially with the ad above featuring white powder and a razor blade. This is not the brand image that I can see Coke wanting to have.


  8. I’m not bothered by it, and I understand what they mean by “You’re on.” but I think Diet Coke could have been a little more aware of what people would take this as, and research and test the tagline first.


  9. It seems silly that a company would spend so much money on a campaign that would create so much negative buzz. However, maybe that’s the point of it- to create buzz.


  10. Theres such a thing as infamy, and its pretty effective in terms of making products memorable. I seriously doubt that Coca-Cola was unaware of the drug connotation in their Diet Coke advertisements. They probably just weighed out the risks and realized that the controversy would bring them a lot of publicity. Because they aren’t directly stating anything, no one can really accuse Coca-Cola of advocating drug use.


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