Marketing Works: Why I Drink Coke Zero

I used to think marketing was evil. And I used to think that it was pointless — just another way for faceless corporations to manipulate innocent people. But now more than ever, I’m convinced that marketing does work — for good and for evil. For instance, take my favorite drink Coke Zero.

I have never, ever, ever enjoyed diet drinks. Not ever.

But I love Coke Zero. I mean, I drink it all the time. When I was a chubby teenager, I used to drink cheap, sugary soda all the time, but when I decided to start running and to shed some weight, I stopped drinking it for years.

I started having a Coke or a Dr. Pepper (my wife’s favorite) once in awhile just a few years ago, but I was still pretty conscious of too much soda intake. Then, Coke Zero came out, and I thought I’d give it a shot.

Now, I can’t go on a road trip without stopping to get a bottle (or two or three) from the gas station. If I’m honest, I drink it for the same reason I use any product — it makes me feel good.

Here’s why I feel good about every bottle (or can) of Coke Zero I buy:

1) They told me it would taste good… and it did. This might sound odd, but the commercials and advertising promised that this would taste just like Coke. In fact, the bottle that I just consumed says on the label, “REAL Coca-Cola TASTE.” That’s why I tried it. Sure, it doesn’t taste exactly like Coca-Cola Classic, but neither does it have that unforgettable sweet taste of Diet Coke. Yech. I continue to drink it, because I felt like they had delivered on what they had promised. As with anything in life, integrity matters… especially in marketing.

2) It’s guilt-free. Zero calories. That means I can drink it all day long and not feel bad. Sure, it has lots of sodium and will rot my teeth, and blah, blah, blah. Mostly, I’m just worried about trying to get in shape and not making choices that will make me fatter.

3) It looks cool. Let’s face it: Most diet drinks look as artificial as they taste. They look generic. Boring. But Coke Zero looks cool; therefore, it is cool. Its black, red, and white color scheme (mostly black) give it a modern edge that makes you feel like you’re consuming a real beverage, not just a knock-off of something better.

I know that this might come off of as sounding completely superficial, but I’m telling you: Marketing matters. We believe the things we read and hear… at least for awhile. They enter our brains and bounce around for awhile… at least until we have an experience with the product or service. At that point, the rubber meets the road.

Marketing can be good, if it helps you enjoy something that delivers on what it promised. For instance, the cool packaging, witty advertising, and Coke Rewards program all make me feel better about buying Coke Zero. I’m constantly reminded that this tastes great, looks good, and is guilt-free.

However, marketing can be evil when advertisers get a hold of a concept like this and use it to manipulate the consumer, tricking them into buying something they never wanted. If you’re a communicator, you can go the route of many predecessors who have given marketing a bad name, or you can take the road less traveled, under-promising, over-delivering, and re-assuring your constituents that they made the right choice.

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