Monday, June 13, 2005

Coke Head

Small is the new big, at least when it comes to carbonated beverages. In case you haven't visited a grocery store or backyard barbeque in recent weeks, it seems that the major soft drink companies (including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and even Hansen's) have begun selling their most popular products in six packs of stubby 8oz cans. Never fear, twelve packs of the familiar and proportionally attractive 12oz cans are still available. But the last time I went to Safeway to get beverages for my post-graduation ceremony get-together I was forced to purchase the midget cans.

Though undoubtedly these diminutive servings are a marketing ploy, and though I usually frown upon food and beverage producers re-packaging the exact same product as if it were a brand new [!!!] item (see below), the 33% reduction in can size pleases me. In theory at least, smaller cans means people will be drinking less of this product, and less product means that people might be consuming fewer completely unnecessary calories. For many Americans struggling with their weight, a 35-calorie difference once or twice a day can accumulative make a substantial difference over a goodly period of time.

David Duman and I have deemed these new cans "chodas," combining the product name (soda) with the name of the humorous penile anomoly it resembles (chode). Please spread the good word.

When perusing the interweb for some information on the choda can, I came across the most absurd reification of fizzy water and food coloring that our generation has seen. I introduce you to Coca-Cola Zero, which is in every way identical to Diet Coke save for its target consumer market. I shit you not. It's Diet Coke with a new coat of paint, and the good people at Coke aren't even attempting to conceal this fact.

Coke has jumped the shark in a big way.

Go ahead and click on the "News" link of the Coca-Cola Zero homepage to learn all about this fantastically new-esque product and how it's exactly like Diet Coke except that the reinvention has a new "personality." You'll also find out that people our age don't like to compromise on flavor. Whew! That's a relief. And all this time I thought diet sodas tasted bad.

Aw, cute. They even have quotes from the Coke Director of Marketing as if it were a real news story. "Coca-Cola Zero's personality will be different from any of our other brands, and our marketing will reflect that with some fresh ideas we haven't tried before."

I can't wait. To quote my favorite columnist, "This could be big ... Crystal Pepsi big!"

Oddly enough, as ridiculous as the concept of Coca-Cola Zero may be, I guess I can't really find anything substantial to complain about. You're not going to find me subscribing to AdBusters or sheltering my children from advertising culture, and on a micro-level you won't catch me boycotting products just because they're useless and redundant. There's nothing inherently wrong with ads, so long as they don't lie, and there's nothing inherently wrong with telling stupid Gen-Y'ers and Tweens that they're drinking a new product when they're actually not.

But as long as we're repackaging tired consumer goods for the sake of selling them to a not as of yet saturated market, I can think of a few more products that deserve a makeover. How about the 401(kool), the X-treme retirement savings plan? Any other ideas?


My understanding was that the new Coke product had different ingredients. A different combination of sweeteners, anyway, since in the last few years a few new sweetening agents have been approved. And looking at that News site again, they mention both aspartame (in the old Diet Coke) and acesulfame potassium (which I don't think is in the old Coke.) Considering how nasty aspartame is, a change in sweeteners could potentially lead to a significant change in taste.
1) Big props on "chodas".

2) I think it's obvious that Coke Zero is a response to Pepsi One, and in my guess a potentially very clever one. The soda companies are working with the golf metric here (lower equals better) so when Pepsi made the mistake of only going down to One, Coke lept at the opportunity.

My theory about the marketing behind this will be confirmed if Pepsi counters by offereing a Pepsi product with a negative number attached...
"Our new, near-impossible-to-open cans require you to burn a few calories just to get at your 0-calorie drink."
By 2025 coke will have to rush production of coke negative infinity plus one to stay ahead of pepsi's negative umpteenmillion. Eventually the cola wars stop when it is revealed that coke negative aleph causes brain tumors.
I've always spelled it "choad" but Google wins out on this one.
they need to bring back guarana. josta was the best.
Paul's got it right. Changing sweeteners has a huge impact on taste. Coca Cola Zero tastes alot more like regular Coke than Diet Coke. This isn't re-packaged Diet Coke, because it tastes so different. This is Coke's second Zero product. Sprite Zero is better than Diet Sprite, which I think they discontinued cause I can't find Diet Sprite anywhere anymore. That new sweetener, acesulfame potassium, is also called Ace-K. Pepsi One is sweetened with Splenda, a sugar derivative. What you're really seeing right now is an evolution in sweetening technology as significant as the shift from Saccahrin to Nutra-Sweet (Aspartame). And with millions of people suffering Diabetes, such an evolution is a good thing.
"O Chem" sounds like a Coke shill. But I guess I occasionally wax thrilled in advertiser's language when I get excited enough about a product (i.e., Firefox).
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