PR Team: Cohn and Wolfe
Campaign: Diet Coke break
Timescale: Mar - Aug1998
Budget: pounds 177,000 (including Robert Merrill’s fee and
In April this year, Coca-Cola launched the latest advertisement for Diet
Coke. The advertisement features the ’Diet Coke hunk’-a window cleaner
who takes a break every day at 11.30am, much to the delight of the women
who work in the building he cleans, and take a ’Diet Coke break’ at the
same time, to admire the view.
To maximise the impact of the advertisement, diet Coke’s retained PR
agency Cohn and Wolfe were charged with creating a fully integrated PR
campaign in support of the ad.
To give the Diet Coke break proposition a life beyond the advertising
campaign, and to encourage the target market (women aged between 25- to
45-years-old) to take regular breaks. The message had to be communicated
in accordance with the sexy, fun and confident style associated with
A three point plan was devised, and the campaign kicked off in March,
prior to the launch of the advertisement.
Firstly, the team at Cohn and Wolfe came up with the idea of
commissioning a light-hearted survey, highlighting the importance of
taking regular breaks throughout the working day. The results of the
survey were analysed by a psychologist and formed the basis of the media
relations initiative titled ’Give us a break boss’. The thrust of the
research was that two-thirds of the nation’s workers miss out on vital
breaks, and that 34 per cent of women enjoy gossiping with workmates
during their breaks.
Diet Coke packs were produced including mousemats and penholders,
branded with images from the new advertisement, as part of a mass
mailout to 5,000 people. These were also given away in competitions and
the material was printed with a telephone ’hotline’ for inquiries about
Diet Coke vending machines.
The secretarial sector was targeted particularly by this phase of the
campaign, through free titles such as Nine to Five and Ms London.
Materials were also issued atsecretarial fairs.
The second phase of the campaign was a five-day tour of the UK by Robert
Merrill, the ’Diet Coke hunk’, arranged to coincide with the launch of
the advertisement. The PR team organised photoshoots for various women’s
magazines, and he was interviewed for broadcast and print media.
The final phase of the campaign was a series of advertorials in the
The campaign received 135 pieces of editorial coverage. In-house
evaluation of this coverage revealed that nearly 80 per cent of these
pieces conveyed the Diet Coke break message, and over 60 per cent
mentioned Diet Coke more than once. The ’Diet Coke hunk’ received
mentions in 64 per cent of the coverage.
Robert Merrill’s tour generated the best coverage, including ’Man of the
Month’ in B magazine and an interview for Channel 5 news by Melanie
Sykes, featuring a parody of the advertisement by well-known
personalities Ant and Dec.
Coca-Cola received over 600 enquiries for vending machines following
calls to the ’Give us a break boss’ hotline.
The Diet Coke break idea was a hit, and while it hasn’t exactly replaced
’tea break’ in our vernacular, it has had a widespread impact.
The tour by Merrill was the highlight of this campaign, generating loads
of breathy coverage in the women’s press. Reportedly, many of the women
journalists who covered this story were thrilled with the idea of
meeting the ’Diet Coke hunk’, and played up to whole tone of the
This comes across in much of the copy which reflected the sexy, fun
elements of the brand.