So, upon seeing the introduction of Coke Zero about two years ago, I was struck by the possibility that Coke might be trying to introduce a diet product aimed not just at men, but at gay men.
The product seemed to have the qualities that gay men might want — not as completely femme as Diet Coke, but still calorie-friendly enough to win adherents in what is a more fitness-oriented community than the hetero mainstream.
And then, during a meet, taste, and greet on the floor of the FMI Show — much to the surprise of Coke spokesman Scott Williamson (or silent Scottie, as we’ve come to call him) and his faithful companion-in-flackery Debbie Wetherhead — I threw that possibility out there. They both did double-takes. Such targeted marketing practices never enter the mind of the folks down in Atlanta! Coke — and all Coke products, except for TaB energy, which is pretty much pink — are all beloved by everyone, regardless of demographic niche.
Turns out, they were at least part right — about Zero, which Coke hadn’t launched with the gay community in mind.
Apparently, that’s because Diet Coke really does well there, already, and the Coke top brass had plans to do even better, according to this excellent story by the Commercial Closet’s Michael Wilkie.
According to Wilkie, the Diet Coke sponsorship of the Oscars was at least partly because the company was targeting the gay community — and it was an attempt to catch up to Diet Pepsi, which is actually one of the top brands in terms of targeted ad spending and recognition in that group.
Which means that Coke Zero is, indeed, aimed at straight guys. If there are any left who aren’t drinking Gatorade.