Can Coca-Cola Close the Empathy Gap and Open Minds with Launch of 2020 Campaign?
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Wieden+Kennedy brings together Somesuch’s Steve Rogers and the straight-talking Natasha Lyonne – and creates a retro, comic strip-inspired outdoor campaign
It’s 2020 and the state of political, social and online discourse has sunk to the level of a soap opera slanging match. Though with considerably less nuance. And as we get deeper into the US electoral season, things don’t look like they will get much better.
That’s why Coca-Cola, a brand that has long associated itself with happiness and sharing, is stepping in to bring a bit more empathy into the world with its new campaign for Western Europe. And for this outing, the brand is tackling an overarching sense of polarisation and division that’s come to characterise society. It asks the viewer to consider if they’re guilty of not listening and being closed off to different perspectives. “We believe the key to bringing people together is empathy. Empathy means understanding how someone else feels. Listening to what they have to say. Taking a walk in their shoes and this campaign aims to do that by inspiring us all to take a step back and consider someone else’s point of view. We believe by being open and listening to each other, we can create change, and we are committed to doing the same. Being more open ourselves. Listening more to others. Acting differently. We know we need to change, and we are beginning to do just that," says Walter Susini, Senior Vice President of Marketing EMEA.
The spot, directed by Steve Rogers, starts with a couple squabbling in a car – as the scene unfurls, the arguments unfurl and escalate and cracks begin to spread.
VFX and post company Time Based Arts have a lot of heavy lifting to do as the ad becomes more extreme, with buildings cracking open and crumbling to dust under the strain of the cacophony. Battling video game characters break free, bringing more mayhem and destruction with them.
The spot ends as no-nonsense actor Natasha Lyonne, star of Netflix hits Orange is the New Black and Russian Doll, strides into the fray. “Woah, woah, woah guys, this isn't how you save the world,” she announces. “And the thing is, everyone's obsessed with being right about everything. I don’t know, if you asked yourself could I be the one who's wrong, maybe things could change for the better.”
The campaign will run across European markets including UK, Spain and Germany. It’s accompanied by a bold, retro outdoor campaign and packaging design. The outdoor campaign resembles a 60s comic strip – and the Coca-Cola colour scheme of red, white and black also lend it a touch of the classic swimming pool Dos and Don’ts poster.
Illustrator Alva Skog has been brought on board to design the cans and the animated end frame of the TVC, while Nimura Daisuke has created the bold print and outdoor illustrations – with animation production company Jelly Kitchen animating the end frame and digital out of home.
According to Walter, that sense of sharing and unity in difficult times is deeply woven into the brand's DNA. In 1969, they featured African-American boys and white boys sitting together, challenging segration in Atlanta. In 2013, Small World brought together people from India and Pakistan. So while it's a campaign that feels very pertinent in 2020, it also draws deeply from the brand's marketing roots. "Coca-Cola has always believed in bringing people together, we’ve been doing it for over 130 years. From Boys on a Bench in 1969, Hilltop in 1971, Dark Iftar in 2017 and This Coke’s a Fanta in 2018; it was our purpose even before we even knew what purpose was. Uniting people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and from all over the world is what Coca-Cola™ is known for. But the world has changed. It feels more divided and more hostile. That means our purpose of uniting people is getting harder. But not impossible," says Walter.
“We don’t pretend to have all the answers. We don’t even know all the questions. But we do know that it’s time to act."
Creative Director: Joe De Souza, Juan Sevilla
Creatives: Ben Shaffery, Molly Wilkof
Contributing Creative: Carlos Font
Senior Designer: Simon Elvins
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Davidson & Iain Tait
2D Artists: Adam Paterson, Grant White, Luke Todd, Manolo Perez, Matt Jackson, Matt Shires, Ollie Ramsey, Sheldon Gardner, Stephen Grasso, Thiago Dantas, Will Robinson
CG Artists: Ben Cantor, Ben Oliver, Bernardo Yang, David Loh, Emma Malric, Fabrice Le Nezet, Federico Vanone, Florentina Perez, James Spillman, Magali Barbe, Matt Evans, Mike Battcock, Nick Smalley, Nigel Timms, Sam Osborne, Tim Philips, Tom Di Stasio, Vincent Techer, Walter How, Zoeì Sottiaux, Tom Robinson