Coke Sets The Right Tone For 2022

Coke Sets The Right Tone For 2022


Coca-Cola offer us a snapshot of family life for our first Ad Of The Week of 2022. A woman comes home to find her husband and family relaxing, but glued to their various screens and plugged in to headphones. Together, but not really together. So she sets out to change that, heading for the kitchen and frying up something delicious with her son. Her daughter comes to see what’s cooking, and finally the Dad is gently liberated from his headphones and the whole family sits down to eat together.

It’s a simple ad, with a simple message – “Magic happens when we eat together”. (A bottle of Coke plays a prominent role, of course.) But it’s one that worked for viewers, with a strong 4.4-Star result predicting positive long-term effects for Coke.

The ad is the highest-scoring work so far using Coca-Cola’s new “Real Magic” platform, following a gaming-themed ad and its Christmas work “Chimney”. Both those ads had stories which turned on surreal happenings – a literal kind of magic. But “Family Bonding” moves away from that and its natural vibe works better.

What does the ad get right? Two things in particular. It has a point of view but it doesn’t preach, and it’s filled with human communication and betweenness.

A lot of people are worried about ‘screen time’ and its effects on family life. In Orlando Wood’s new book Look Out he talks about the social disruption caused by this technological change and shares powerful art showing the same “together but alone” scenes we see in the Coke ad. Family time shared over meals is a powerful antidote to that trend, and that’s what the Coke ad is explicitly promoting. The ad does it in a very gentle way, though – there’s no sadness and no sense of criticism in the portrayal of the family and their devices. They’re obviously enjoying themselves with their laptops and phones – it’s just they enjoy themselves more when they spend time together. So the ad makes viewers feel good, not feel guilty.

Look Out also talks a lot about betweenness – the use of dialogue and non-verbal communication in ads to show relationships between characters. “Family Bonding” is packed with betweenness, from the excited scenes in the kitchen to the tender looks between the central couple. Betweenness matters because it attracts the broad-beam attention of the right half of the brain – viewers are drawn to it, they empathise with it and it makes the characters in ads feel more vivid. That in turn leads to more memorable and emotionally effective work, as we see here.

Unusually for a Coke ad, the commercial’s only flaw is in its Brand Fluency. While most Coke work gets exceptional scores on this recognition-based metric, “Family Bonding” is only average. It’s a more subtly branded ad than normal, with a Coke bottle very visible but quite late in the ad. For a small brand, that might be a problem – but Coke can get away with being more discreet now and then. Overall, this is a fine ad which hits the right tone as people make resolutions and change habits at the beginning of 2022.