CAMPAIGNS PROMOTIONS: Diet Coke plays on pects appeal

Client: Coca-Cola

Client: Coca-Cola

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

Diet Coke.


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

national press.


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.

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