Coca-Cola has evidently been experimenting with its advertising strategy, and its newest campaign prioritizes an unexpected theme: exercise. “Happy Cycle,” a video the company released Thursday, is the latest installment in Coke’s ongoing “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?” campaign.
The circus-like video shows contestants riding bicycles connected to massive, robotic contraptions complete with red and white bells and whistles. Once a contestant has burned 140 calories, a single can of coke is released through one of these elaborate vending machines. In a post on the company's website, Wendy Clark, president of strategic marketing for Coca-Cola in North America, said, “All calories count, and we want to help our fans and consumers better understand the role of energy balance in their lives. This film is a lighthearted, engaging and memorable way to do just that.”
Energy drinks such as Gatorade and Vitamin Water have had success branding themselves as energy drinks. But when I think of Coke, I don’t think fitness. Soda consumption has been linked to diabetes and heart disease, and even Diet Coke has suffered comparisons to crack cocaine and crystal meth. Given this reputation, its going to be hard for Coke to reinvent itself as a sports drink, no matter how many oversized burn-it-to-earn-it machines it installs. If anything, this video reminds us of the effort we must exert to burn off soda calories.
In future ads, Coke might be better off recalling themes from the vintage spectacles that are at least partly responsible for the brand's enduring legacy: the Norman Rockwell imagery, the vintage fashion, the "isn't it swell" ambiance, and the idea Coke is a treat, and not one you have to bike 23 minutes to enjoy.
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