Pinocchio Never Lies

Pinocchio Never Lies


While Coca-Cola has created dozens of classic ads for its Coke brand, and Diet Coke has the legendary “Diet Coke Break”, there’s yet to be a Coke Zero ad that really embeds itself into popular culture. That isn’t to say there haven’t been good ads for Coke Zero, and this week’s Ad Of The Week is a fine example.

It’s a riff on the Pinocchio story – the puppet who wants to become a real boy, but whose nose grows whenever he tells a lie. Pinocchio says that his Coke Zero tastes delicious, exactly like Coke. Stop lying, says his friend – who then discovers the truth for himself. It’s not an especially complex story, but there’s a nice final-frame joke too.

The ad did well with viewers – a strong 4.3-Star performance showing the ad’s emotional appeal, and exceptional Spike and Brand Fluency scores showing it’s strongly branded and poised to make a good short-term and long-term impact. Fluency in particular is a good sign for Coke Zero, a brand which sometimes finds it difficult to step out of its parent’s very large shadow.

It’s easy to see why “Never Lie” scored well. Cultural references, dialogue, and a sense of between-ness (characters interacting) are all positive things for ads and elements which can catch the attention of our right-brain. Right-brained attention, as shown in Orlando Wood’s Lemon study, is a great driver of long-term effectiveness in advertising.

But though it’s a good ad, “Never Lie” also shows Coke Zero’s essential issue. Sixteen years after its launch, it’s still having to battle against perceptions that it’s the ‘lesser’, not as tasty little brother of Coke’s range. “As good as Coke” is not a distinctive brand identity, and perhaps that’s why Coke Zero keeps on producing good, effective ads, but hasn’t yet lent its name to a real classic.