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In June 2005, Coke introduced a new no-calorie product, Coke Zero, targeted toward men aged 18–34 years who do not want to drink a Diet Coke because of the feminine connotation of the word “diet.” This new product tastes identical to regular Coke and has sold very well—100 million unit cases since its debut.However, the competitive drink industry has experienced great changes as consumers lean toward bottled water, juice drinks, and other trendy new offerings. As a result, Coca-Cola suffered as consumers chose healthier options rather than sodas. When it introduced C2, a soda with half the carbohydrates as regular Coke, it failed miserably.

Possibly learning from its mistakes, Coca-Cola dev eloped a killer marketing campaign to go along with its favorite new product, Coke Zero. Using innovative viral marketing, the new ads feature Coca-Cola Classic marketers seeking legal advice from lawyers—some of whom did not know they were being filmed for an ad campaign—about how they can sue Coke Zero for “taste infringement.”

The creative campaign makes use of the trendy medium of YouTube, hoping that viewers will share the witty video clip with their friends. The videos rely on great humor; at one point, the actors playing Coke’s brand managers tell a lawyer that they want to “crush the Coke Zero director until he is in the fetal position under the copier, crying.” In another scene, the brand manager notes that Coke is 100 years old and that the company should sue Coke Zero for “age discrimination.” The clueless lawyer winds up absolutely enraged by the idiocy of the fictional brand managers.

Other activities have grown from this initiative as well. Viewers can now “Sue a Friend” for using the same pickup lines or the same ringtones on the Coke Zero Web site. The company thus is exploiting social networking sites to get customers involved with and excited about the new product.

Discussion Questions:

1. How is Coke Zero creating buzz marketing for its product?

2. Will this new product be successful in the market?

Betsy McKay, “Zero Is Coke’s New Hero,” The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2007.

Janet Conley, “Frivolous Litigation: How Coke ‘Punk’d’ Its Lawyers,” Law.com, March 26, 2007