Former addicts and addiction specialists alike are not on board with Coca-Cola’s new advertisements in New York City which seem as though they are parodying cocaine addiction. The ads appear to be humorous but for many people who have experienced this type of addiction or work in the recovery industry, the joke is not funny.
The ads work to get people’s attention but too many are wondering if referencing cocaine addiction is in poor taste given the amount of people in the city suffering from this problem. The ad has been a subject of controversy although Coca-Cola still tries to defend their intentions with the ad and claim that drug references were not meant to be a part of the idea.
Diet Coke’s You’re On Campaign
The soft drink company has been putting up billboards and bus ads around New York City with new slogan “You’re on Diet Coke”. There are also some which reference people arriving in New York with ambitious dreams followed by the slogan. Many people are now talking about this ad and are confused as to why the company would use a phrase which sounds so much like saying “you’re on coke” and seems to clearly reference cocaine.
While Coca-Cola asserts that their intention with the ad was to show people achieving their best moments with the help of drinking diet coke. According to them they are using the phrase “you’re on” in a way that means people are performing at their best. It is hard for people to differentiate the phrase from its more common association however especially for addicts and those working in addiction recovery who are quite shocked and offended that the company would even inadvertently make such a connection.
Controversial Advertising Gets Attention
Whether the reference to cocaine was intentional or not, the advertisement has gotten quite a bit of attention and controversy. Social media has been at the forefront of comments on the new ad campaign as people discuss the strange sounding new slogan. Numerous tweets referencing the ad are creating interest in the company which seems like it might have been the intention of the ad agency all along.
It is hard to believe that a major advertising company would overlook the obvious connection that people would make when reading a slogan that says “you’re on (diet) coke.” Everything about an advertisement for such a big corporation like Coca-Cola is carefully planned and researched without any marketing details missed.
The company can easily deny any intention of referencing cocaine but they have managed to make an effectively controversial advertisement that generated a lot of discussion, something which was probably at least a part of their initial goal.
Addiction specialists especially are concerned about the word use in the slogans and how it represents and makes a kind of joke out of a very serious subject. For those that work closely with people struggling with addiction, the ads are uncomfortable and even grating for them. Cocaine addiction is nothing to laugh about or parody in an advertisement by such a big corporation as Coca-Cola.
What seems to be an effort to get attention for their product has worked well in one sense but it is at the expense of people who suffer from cocaine addiction every day. In New York City, 6 out of 10 people who die from drug overdose show signs of recent cocaine abuse. Coca-Cola may try to convince people that their slogan is meant to be uplifting but for people with addiction problems it is offensive and hits a little too close to home.