Easel Does It: Coke Makes An Ai Masterpiece




Andy Warhol once summed up Coca-Cola, advertising, and the power of brand in a single quote. “You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too…All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

Warhol loved Coke, and in their blockbuster new ad “Masterpiece”, Coke returns the love. But it’s not just Andy Warhol they love in their fantasia of art come to life. It’s Edvard Munch, Van Gogh, Vermeer, Japanese master Utagawa Hiroshige and contemporary artists like Wunderbuhle and Stefania Tejada.

The ad, developed with creative agency Blitzworks, follows one bottle of Coke as it journeys from famous artwork to famous artwork, on its way to the hand of a tired and thirsty art student in a gallery. From Orlando Wood’s work in Lemon and Look Out we know that cultural references can be a ‘secret sauce’ boosting ad effectiveness, and ads don’t come much more culturally referential than this one. It lands a strong 4.0-Stars in Test Your Ad, with exceptional scores in short-term Spike and Brand Fluency (not surprising – it’s as much a tribute to the iconic Coca-Cola bottle as it is to any art!)

The ad’s another strong entry in Coke’s Real Magic global platform, which launched in September 2021. In fact it’s the highest Spike Rating of any Real Magic ad, suggesting the brand is starting to hit that sweet spot where ads reinforce positive emotion and drive short-term sales too.

“Masterpiece” is also an ad which feels very of its moment. The idea of paintings coming to life isn’t new – the music in “Masterpiece” feels like it’s a nod to the Harry Potter films and their living portraits, and there have been previous ads which bring famous pictures to life. But Coca-Cola have made something which feels intensely 2023, capturing a moment in which AI art is giving millions a taste of what remixing, blending and borrowing from classic art feels like. The joy of “Masterpiece” isn’t just seeing the art move, it’s seeing what happens to the Coke bottle as it transforms to each new style and image.

This isn’t an accident. The campaign extends well beyond this showcase 2-minute ad – it makes a point of mixing new artists in with classic art because it’s trying to introduce their work to a wider audience. Coke is also launching a competition alongside the ad, encouraging digital creators to use AI to make work that incorporates classic Coke designs and assets.

“Masterpiece” was partially created using generative AI, and Coke is one of the first brands to see the potential for the technology to take advantage of distinctive assets. It’s extremely well-placed to do this. When you put the generic word “cola” into an AI art generator, what you get is… Coke.

When you own a category so much even AI agrees, you’re in a good position to play with those assets and let your consumers make their own masterpieces. These days, Andy Warhol’s quote needs updating: all the Cokes aren’t the same. But they’re all still good.

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