Brand barometer - Can Coke Zero put the fizz back?

The soft drink firm's biggest production launch for more than 20 years is having a major impact.

10 July was a big day in the Coca-Cola calendar. It marked the launch of Coke Zero, the soft drink giant's biggest product launch for more than 20 years. While traditionally diet versions of soft drinks have been marketed towards women, the new Coke brand - dubbed "Bloke Coke" - is targeted at men, backed by an £8m advertising campaign designed to appeal to the male market.

It's not a completely novel concept - arch-rival Pepsi has already tried a similar approach with Pepsi Max, which used extreme sports in its advertising.

By contrast, Coke's new ads show a supposedly normal bloke, incredulous that the iconic drink can still taste delicious without the sugar, and then imagining all the other things in life that would be wonderful without downsides, such as "workmates without work", "bras without the fumbling" and "mobile phones without dodgy ringtones".

Coca-Cola has also signed up Cheryl Tweedy, from the pop band Girls Aloud, now better known as the wife of footballer Ashley Cole, to be its consumer face. But will it be enough to buck the consumer trend away from fizzy drinks?

Coke did try to tap into our obsession with healthier lifestyles and a boom in the fruit juice and bottled water market with the launch of its Disani water two years ago - which proved a resounding disaster after it was revealed to be recycled tap water. And with this latest launch, some believe Coke could be striding in the wrong direction again.

But, so far, the launch appears to have been a resounding success - Coca-Cola's buzz rating was up eight points from +4 on the day of the launch to +12 and its "recommend to a friend" score, a proxy for how likely people themselves are to go and buy the product, is up seven points from +5 to +12.

Specifically, the targeting of the male market also seems to have worked. Buzz among men has risen 11 points, while the net proportion of men who would recommend Coke to a friend has risen by 14.

Bloke Coke could yet prove the behemoth's saviour.

METHODOLOGY

YouGov's BrandIndex is a daily measure of public perception of more than 1,100 consumer brands across 32 sectors, measured on a seven-point profile, with data delivered next-day.

YouGov interviews 2,000 people each weekday, more than half a million interviews per year.

This means you can spot trends as soon as they happen, not when it's too late. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 130,000.

The score is the net rating: people are asked to identify the brands to which they have a positive response, and then those to which they have a negative response, to whatever is the prompt measure.

The net score is the positive minus the negative.

The seven measures that make the complete profile are below.

Each is taken independently - in any one survey, any individual respondent is asked about only one measure for the sector, not all seven. Therefore, none of the readings influence each other within the survey.

1. Buzz

2. General impression

3. Quality

4. Value

5. Satisfaction

6. Recommend

7. Corporate reputation

In addition, we supply an index score.

by Sundip Chahal

www.brandindex.com.

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