Masters Of The Ad Universe Breathe Life Into Ailing Icon

One of the advantages Sun Times advertising columnist, Lewis Lazare, enjoys is the arrival of a steady stream of reels from agencies around the country. Such catering allows him to pop the latest spots into his machine, sit back and let the pontificating begin. In today’s column, he lavishes praise on the new Coca-Cola spots from Wieden + Kennedy.

For years, we sat in front of our television screen and winced whenever we watched new Coca-Cola advertising. For a legendary company with enough resources and the brand heritage to produce the best advertising in the world, Coke again and again came up with bush league creative that was working overtime to look hip and oh-so-with-it. Almost all of it was unbelievably stupid and vapid.
It’s a new year now, and from an advertising perspective anyway, it’s starting out on an extraordinarily bright note for Coca-Cola Co., thanks to the marvelously intelligent and ingeniously simple work Wieden has created.
Looking at W + K’s debut work for the Coke brand made us realize once again how many American ad agencies and the creatives that work there today don’t really get what makes great advertising. A close study of W + K’s work for Coke would seem to be in order at a lot of these agencies.
What W+K has done, in a nutshell, is distill the essence of the Coke brand into a string of 15- and 30-second commercials designed to remind viewers of brand Coke’s iconic status in a way that is light and playful, yet unmistakably powerful, fresh and of the moment.
What’s even more amazing is how effective several of the spots are at conveying Coke’s genuine appeal without resorting to excessive hype or overwrought production concepts. Everything about this effort works to make viewers connect — or reconnect — with everything Coke evoked back in the days so long ago when it was producing major league commercials such as “Mean Joe Green.”

I have yet to see the spots, but I’m confident Lazare knows what he’s talking about here. As for Lazare’s comment on ad agencies’ cluelessness, I believe there’s plenty of blame to go around. When you have a company like Coca-Cola on your roster, most ordinary humans will do whatever they’re told. Thankfully, the account, at long last, has moved to an agency not staffed by ordinary humans.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.