Coke Returns with Right-brained Creative

The Great Meal

Coca Cola


Early on in the Coronavirus crisis, Coca-Cola was one of the most prominent brands to “go dark”. It announced in mid-March that it was suspending its advertising and marketing to put the money into COVID-19 relief efforts. This strategy was praised by some, criticised by others, but what anyone would agree is that a brand that has gone dark needs to come back strong, with an advert that hits home emotionally and reinforces the brand in people’s minds.

So there’s been a high level of scrutiny around Coke’s return to our screens at the start of July, with “The Great Meal”, an ad which explicitly positions itself as post-COVID. A lot of people have talked about a ‘new normal’ – Coke confidently asserts that we’re now living in it, with a renewed appreciation for food, drink and particularly sharing moments together.

The resulting ad is simple – it’s just families cooking and eating together – but earnest and uplifting. An ad which leans so heavily on its message could easily have fallen flat if it got its audience’s mood wrong, but our testing shows that Coke has pulled it off. “The Great Meal” earned a strong 4.3-Star score – a powerful return for the branding giant.

What makes the ad work? There’s a lot of right-brained between-ness to draw us in emotionally. There’s also moments of levity with kids and pets to balance the dramatic voiceover. And finally it’s an ad that looks really good. This isn’t a “Rona Rush-Job”, and Coke have used the extra time they gave themselves well, with a very slick production full of mouthwatering shots. If you didn’t know how much upheaval the ad business has been through in the pandemic, you wouldn’t know it from this commercial.

For Coke, “The Great Meal” is also a chance to reposition itself, with its tagline “Together Tastes Better”, setting up the next phase of a campaign. It’s a positioning that will allow for plenty more resonant and emotional ads in the future. For now, Coke has the winning comeback ad it wanted.