It’s a net Zero for Coke

June 14, 2005

It’s like the marketing managers over at Coke have their bonuses tied to how many line extensions they can dream up. Just when you thought your supermarket aisle couldn’t handle one more Coke line extension, BOOM they think up another one.

Just to recap, here is a list of the current Coke line up:

  1. Coca-Cola
  2. Caffeine-free Coke
  3. Coke with lime
  4. Vanilla Coke
  5. Cherry Coke
  6. Diet Coke
  7. Caffeine-free Diet Coke
  8. Diet Cherry Coke
  9. Diet Coke with lemon
  10. Diet Coke with lime
  11. Vanilla Diet Coke
  12. Diet Coke with Splenda
  13. C2

And now introducing Coca-Cola Zero! What on earth is a Zero? And why do we need it when Coke already sells Diet Coke and Diet Coke with Splenda?

Here is what the official Coca-Cola Zero website says at :

“The launch of Coca-Cola Zero will have no impact on Coca-Cola North America’s ongoing support for Diet Coke, America’s #1 diet soft drink, as the target audiences are different.”

Are you kidding me? No impact? The most likely consumer for Diet Coke is the consumer that is already drinking one of the seven existing Diet Coke brands/line extensions. I would like to bet that Coke has not been gaining any more customers with each additional brand they introduce.

Zero does zero for the Coke brand. It is just a further watering down of the Coke brand in the mind of the consumer. Pretty soon, Coke will be so watered down you might as well just call it Dasani.

The idea behind Coca-Cola Zero is to attract young male consumers who shun beverages with the word Diet on them. I guess we are assuming young men are really stupid. Any one who has finished the fifth grade can figure out Coca-Cola Zero is the same as Diet Coke!

Yes, it might be better not to market a product with the word Diet on it. But it is too late. Coke should have done that years ago when they first introduced Diet Coke, the product should have been given a new name then without the derogatory diet on it. Tab was a great product and brand, it was geared towards females with the pink can, and it was easily beating rival Diet Pepsi when Diet Coke was introduced. Why companies prefer line extension over launching new brands make no sense.

And to make matter worse, the advertising for Coca-Cola Zero will drag out the old hilltop singers. Only this time the updated lyrics will include such great lines like “I’d like to teach the world to chill, take time to stop and smile/ I’d like to buy the world a Coke and chill with it awhile.” That will make the kids think it’s cool!

All these Coke line extensions are really doing is confusing customers. The Coke brand is becoming the Chevrolet of the soft drink world. I get a headache every time I hit the cola aisle of the supermarket. Is Coke on sale this week? And if so, what kind of Diet Coke do I want? And is my favorite Diet Coke in stock this week? Oh forget it and give me a Propel.