Media: Strategy Analysis - The advertising messengers for their medium

Tort the tortoise talks to the target.

Brand: Diet Coke

Client: Jayne Lawrence, Coca-Cola

Brief: Extend the appeal of Diet Coke

Target audience: Men and women aged 20 to 29

Budget: Undisclosed


Creative: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

Media planning: Clare Peters and Matthew Hook at Vizeum

Buying: Universal McCann

Outdoor buying: Posterscope

Online: VCCP, Diffiniti (buying)

Sampling: The Works


The "Diet Coke break" ad campaign, featuring a group of excited female office workers running to the window to watch a workman taking his break, began 15 years ago. Since then, Diet Coke has focused on reinforcing the feeling of the original ad - flirty, sexy and for women. So, while many men were Diet Coke drinkers, the advertising was still positioning the brand as a drink for girls.

To widen the appeal of the brand, "Tort, the tortoise who loves life" was born. His job was to get people to reappraise the brand by delivering a "sugar-free, great taste" message.

Diet Coke decided to create stand-out by swimming against the tide of advertising soft drinks in the summer. After the excesses of Christmas, the New Year, when people make their resolutions, was the time to launch a campaign with a sugar-free message. This time of year also offered favourable market conditions across all media.


A multi-tiered national media campaign was launched, in order to give consumers as much opportunity as possible to re-evaluate the brand.

PTV Programming strategy created a balance between cover and environment.

Focusing on the "New Year, new me" approach, it targeted people in the mood for self-assessment. Diet Coke also bought into football programming for the first time, to target men. Tactical opportunities kept the ads relevant - for example, Tort the tortoise met his girlfriend over Valentine's weekend.

- Outdoor: Outdoor was key to creating mass awareness of Tort and supporting the nationwide sampling campaign that broke in the first four days back to work. The campaign centred on shopping centres and train stations, with an upweight in gyms to take advantage of the New Year membership rush.

A teaser campaign was launched at the Piccadilly Circus Landmark site, which saw Tort hatch in the New Year.

- Online: Tort performed skateboard tricks, breakdancing and trampoline skills, reflecting the visuals seen on TV and outdoor advertising.

- Press: A tactical ad ran in Metro on 4 January with the strapline: "My New Year's resolution, I'm going sugar-free." This allowed Diet Coke to talk to its target 20- to 29-year-olds as they commuted to and from their first day back at work. In combination, Diet Coke's TV, outdoor, online and press work helped it tap into the "back to work" resolution mindset.

- Cinema: Diet Coke has a strong heritage in cinema. Ads ran around films including Alexander, Closer, Million Dollar Baby and Meet the Fockers.


Enjoyment levels for the ads were well above average. Lighter users and men say the ads have made the brand significantly more appealing. The campaign is seen as well-integrated, with 84 per cent believing it to be linked to, but different from, previous work. Creative recognition levels are extremely high, with 80 per cent claiming to have seen the ads.

THE VERDICT - Iain Jacob chief executive, Starcom Mediavest

One of the highlights of this job is when a client asks you to help it develop a new brand direction.

When the brief comes from one of Coca-Cola's biggest brands, you know you have a truly exciting challenge. So my expectations were high as I opened my pack from Campaign.

Coca-Cola has made some big, brave decisions with this campaign; going mass by targeting men with a brand built on women, introducing a new proposition and creating a new icon, Tort.

This is big stuff. In some ways, the media thinking has carried on in this vein. By launching the campaign at the beginning of the New Year, as people return to work, Vizeum has put Diet Coke right up against the more conventional "detox" set of bottled waters and yoghurt drinks.

Vizeum has also built an extensive presence across a broad range of media, from television to health clubs to shopping-centre sampling. There is no doubt this plan shows a real commitment to rapidly exposing Tort to a broad public.

So in many ways, job done. But now, I think, the hard work begins. Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest has created a powerful new brand icon for Diet Coke, and it deserves to be developed into an engaging and campaignable brand property.

In 15 years, Diet Coke has spent the best part of £100 million targeting women. To build a loyal male franchise, Vizeum is going to have to work harder, going beyond simple exposure, to embed Diet Coke into their lifestyles.

This could involve a couple of developments.

The first could be the creation of a clearer, sustainable strategic direction.

For example, by identifying the passionate interests that exemplify the "love life" proposition for their male consumers, to build a recognised territory for the brand among men.

The second could be a much more innovative approach to making Tort a living icon with his male target - how about Tort ambushing events or popping up around "news" stories where celebrities are showing their lust for life?

Five-second "blip verts" could be used to great effect around TV highlights for men. Tort could become a powerful icon in the way that the 118 118 runners did last year.

So, a solid start, but I guess this is all still work in progress.

SCORE: 3 out of 5.