Coca-Cola Demands You Choose Happiness

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Coca-Cola isn’t just a soft drink. It’s an essential part of the human experience鈥攖he key to true happiness鈥攕ays a grand new ad from the brand in Europe. So, suck up your laziness and bootstrap yourself some soda.

The 70-second anthem by Ogilvy & Mather Amsterdam (it’s the office’s first work for the brand) introduces a new theme, “Choose Happiness,” and continues Coke’s tradition of casting itself as synonymous with joy. But it takes a more aggressive tone than usual. Not only can you be happy, you should be happy, right now, and all you have to do is reach out and grab it. That Coke, right there on the shelf, that is.

Set to a song and rap by Amsterdam-based HT, the spot (plus a more exhausting, full-blown branded music video, complete with an indecipherable hook) argues that happiness is a choice. Which is sort of true in some contexts, but is also oversimplified advertising-speak.

The broad-reaching argument rests in large part on urging you to consider all the dandy things your hands can do. They can make beats, and hold jump ropes, and give hugs. (Incidentally, Coke would also like you to know your hands can make the shape of Coke bottles, if you join them together with other hands.)

The spot deserves credit for including moments that aren’t totally pollyanna鈥攖here’s a lover’s spat, and even a pseudo-political statement encouraging protest. But it’s also a bit divorced from reality. If you have a hard time smiling with a face full of pepper spray, try washing that down with a Coke鈥攊t might settle your stomach, too.

Naturally, what Coca-Cola really means by “Choose Happiness” is that you should choose among the red, green, black and white versions of its product. The branding at the end of the spot includes four bottles鈥攔epresenting Coke’s Classic, Life, Zero and Diet offerings鈥攑art of a new European strategy to lift the profile of the smaller brands by attaching them to marquee advertising.

That may or may not work, but the creative approach in the anthem spot stems from a familiar problem for any soda marketer: It can’t pitch the product on the grounds that you actually need it, so it has to manufacture your desire as well. This is how you should be living, the ad says, in an overbearing, if still somewhat convincing, attempt to lift millennial spirits by pandering to vain conceptions of empowerment.

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