Diet Coke’s glistening, hazy, very 80s campaign by Droga5 radiates self-confidence

The design team talks to It’s Nice That about the unapologetically nostalgic and seductive visuals for Just Because, and collaborating with Thundercat, Autumn de Wilde, and Philotheus Nisch.

24 May 2021

Armed with a superb troupe of collaborators and applying nostalgia through a shrewdly modern lens, the latest Diet Coke campaign by Droga5 might be one of the brand’s most beautiful yet. Just Because was born from a brief to “celebrate self-confidence” CCO David Kolbusz tells us, but they “didn’t want to do it in a finger-waggy way… no audience likes to be lectured on how to live their lives”. Therefore the overall concept was to emulate everyday moments you might take a break to have a Diet Coke. Then, inspired by the original 1982 Diet Coke ads and jingle Just for the Taste of It, the agency looked to the 80s and 90s, aiming to hark back to the brand’s beginnings.

“While we were looking at the old ads, we noticed how they treated the product,” Kolbusz tells It’s Nice That. “It was great how unapologetic about showing the liquid and the moment of refreshment they were. We loved the confidence in that, which neatly tied into our brief. It’s a big ole celebration with product proudly at the centre of it and a bit of nostalgia to give you a warm fuzzy feeling. But blasted through the colourful modernity of Autumn’s vision.”

Droga5 partnered with director Autumn de Wilde on the ad, whose film Emma is a “perfect example of reviving something old in a fun, aesthetically pleasing way,” explains design director Stephanie McArdle. “She is extremely attentive to visual details, with colour being paramount, without having a particular visual style. So we felt we would get something stylish but also unexpected.” For the all-important jingle, the agency turned to Thundercat – master of beguilingly retro jazz/funk – who McArdle says “sent us into a dreamy, seductive tone, which influenced the visuals. It slowed the pace and inspired the hazy filmic look.”

Meanwhile, for the poster campaign, all these dreamlike, shimmering vibes had to come through in print. McArdle says the approach was for the posters to represent “how we see ourselves when we feel confident. It’s an exaggerated, colourful world”. As such, the shots by photographer Philotheus Nisch are up-close and personal with the characters, she says, so that we “really feel we’re in their aura”. Inspired by the film ad, the product posters create an idol out of the little Diet Coke can, “confident and unapologetically treating it like a God in celestial scenarios,” McArdle adds.

Front and centre of the whole campaign is sparkling, 3D type design, itself a beacon of 80s and 90s aesthetics, and intrinsically linked with Diet Coke’s silver cans. “We have imbued Diet Coke’s silver branding with meaning,” McArdle says. “Silver is glistening, shiny. It glows. A lot like how confidence radiates. So our images glisten with confidence using a starry effect. The chrome, cursive type equally shines. It’s big, bold and full of swagger.”

GalleryDroga5: Diet Coke, Just Because (Copyright © Diet Coke, 2021)

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Droga5: Diet Coke, Just Because (Copyright © Diet Coke, 2021)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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