March 09, 2014

Coca Cola Life ~ with Stevia

Coca Cola recently released a new ad in Argentina and Chile for Coke Life. The ad, made in Buenos Aires by an Argentinian ad agency, is getting rave reviews from viewers and advertising people alike. Set to a song produced in 1967 by the Bee Gees of all people, this ad is delicious in its warmth and humour, and in the celebration of life, which is exactly what the Coca Cola Company had in mind. Coca Cola Life is, in this ad, as natural as life itself.

About a year ago, we were nearing the end of almost three months in BA, and by this time we were accustomed to seeing soft drinks being sold everywhere, with large sections of mercados and kioskos devoted to the products of Pepsi and Coca Cola. It was not uncommon to see business people in finer restaurants drinking Coke with their meals.

Argentina aside, global sales of soft drinks have actually declined in recent years due to increasing concern about sugar consumption and obesity, and rather serious worries about artificial sweeteners like Aspartame. Both Pepsico and Coca Cola Company are desperate to turn things around with some sort of natural, healthy, low-calorie alternative to sugar, which is all rather odd as sugar itself can be both natural and healthy in limited amounts. We haven't yet come to terms with realizing that adding large amounts of sugar, or artificial sweeteners, and caffeine to coloured water might be the real problem. Nor have we been keen to look at the huge profits being made in selling coloured water, or in the sale of bottled municipally-produced tap water, especially in public spaces like schools, playgrounds and community centres where water fountains are being replaced by revenue generation platforms, aided of course by large transnational corporations. But I digress.

Rumours about a new Coke product being released to meet consumer concerns were making the rounds while we were in Argentina and in June 2013, Coca Cola Life was introduced. Coke Life was the first soft drink to use the Stevia extract as a substitute for sugar, and Argentina was the test, for both the product and its marketing. The extract comes from the leaves of the Stevia plant and is considered to be over 200 times sweeter than conventional sugar and without any kilojoules/calories. There are some taste and after-taste issues with Stevia, hence the need to keep some sugar in the mix. The first television ad for Coke Life in Argentina likened the new soft drink to a first kiss. The ad, and the product, became immensely popular in Argentina, but the newest ad is a global home run. The Bee Gees are probably happy too. And how could anyone knock "life" never mind the contents.

Coca Cola Life is expected to be introduced to North America sometime this year, probably sooner now that Pepsico has introduced Pepsi Next to Canada.

Coca Cola Life image from Coca Cola Argentina. Buenos Aires photo by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.

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