By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Photo: The Coca-Cola Company, Diet Coke [unlabeled]
Having a history of being a brand that has always been ‘there, Diet Coke is stripping a limited run of cans of their labels to spark a conversation about just that – labels. Peach spoke to Coca-Cola’s Group Director for the Diet Coke Brand, Kerri Kopp, about the campaign, its spokespeople, and how you can join the conversation.
Recently, Diet Coke released their Unlabeled campaign. Tell us a little bit about it.
Diet Coke has set out to create a multi-year, purpose-driven platform with [unlabeled]. The brand is leaning into The Coca-Cola Company’s rich history of celebrating diversity and inclusion by removing its label from a select run of cans in order to start a dialogue about the labels that surround us. This first phase of [unlabeled] is particularly focused on fostering conversations about the complexities that labels in today’s society, because labels today are tricky and can mean different things to different people – from the fought for and earned to the divisive and imposed. Discussing these labels can lead to more insight into a variety of groups and communities and create more cross-community connections.
The campaign engages with ’touchy’ topics like gender, sexuality, race, disability, ethnicity, et cetera that traditionally are not associated with a marketing campaign – why this big and different step?
Diet Coke has a history and heritage of being ‘there’ – whether as a moment of uplift or as a badge of confidence, it has always been a part of people’s lives. Now, we’re re-positioning the brand for today’s world which includes fostering a richly diverse community that is reflective of a whole new generation. We’re excited to put a spotlight on a number of communities and groups, and it’s our pledge to continue to do so as we evolve [unlabeled].
How do you think a brand like Diet Coke can push a conversation about labels?
We knew Diet Coke couldn’t create this conversation alone, so we enlisted the help of several communities, purpose-driven partners that have been connected to The Coca-Cola Company for the past several years, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the American Indian College Fund, Ascend, Essence Communications, GLAAD, the Hispanic Federation, Human Rights Campaign and National Urban League. Multiple one-on-one sessions with these partners – as well as The Coca-Cola Company’s internal Business Resource Groups – helped vet and shape [unlabeled], not only providing input and guidance at the outset but throughout the development process.
The campaign pledges to create more space – how do you plan to execute this pledge?
Diet Coke pledges to consistently look for ways to use its resources, relationships and reach to create [unlabeled] spaces where people are free to be themselves, and it’s starting with its own spaces. In 2019, the brand committed to:
- Dedicating high-profile out-of-home real estate in New York City to feature a variety of brave, [unlabeled] voices and faces who are living their lives with unbridled confidence.
- Turning Diet Coke social channels into a platform for others. Representatives from a variety of groups will consistently take control of these channels to not only discuss labels but to also bring visibility to the important work that’s being done in their community/communities.
- Leveraging its space on-the-ground at select events to host conversations and discussions about labels.
Tell us a little bit about the various spokespeople in the campaign – where did you find them?
We identified the individuals featured throughout the campaign through our community partners and also from inside The Coca Cola Company to bring [unlabeled] to life by featuring a variety of Coca-Cola employees – together, they represent the rich diversity within the walls of the Company.
How will the campaign rollout? Where will we see it?
The heart of the campaign is a centralized hub at dietcoke.com/unlabeled and today, the brand is releasing a video manifesto online and across social featuring members from a variety of groups and communities, each sharing their personal experience with and perspectives about labels.
In addition to the digital presence, Diet Coke is traveling the country to bring [unlabeled] to audiences at a diverse series of events. At each event, a contextually customized expression of [unlabeled] will come to life to inspire a two-way dialogue with attendees. So far, [unlabeled] has been present at Pride parades in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and World Pride in NYC, hosted a Girlboss Rally [unlabeled] mixer, and at the 25th anniversary of Essence Festival presented a panel discussion about labels in society. This month, the AAPD ADA Celebration on Capitol Hill and National Urban League’s annual conference where attendees will celebrate the labels they embrace.
What are your hopes for this campaign?
As we brought this idea to our various partners, we saw that the topic of labels was one that sparked a lively dialogue and led to a better understanding of other groups and communities. It’s our hope that [unlabeled] can scale these types of conversations to foster more understanding, compassion and, ultimately, help champion a society of greater acceptance.
For more information – and to see the work – go to dietcoke.com/unlabeled