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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Those crafty bastards

You may have seen the billboards around town: "Why can't you have a sick of work day?" is one example. It's all about the "Zero Movement", whose manifesto reads: "Rid the world of all the negative consequences that limit us all." A new message appears on the site every day, pseudo-philosophy dressed up as meaningful pronouncment. Take the example of January 10:

"Unless you happen to be a trust fund baby, a lottery winner or in possession of a sugar mamma/daddy, you're going to be spending a good part of your life working for a living. Sometimes you'll like your job, sometimes you'll loathe it but it will always feel a lot more bearable if you give yourself some sort of reward at the end of the day. You put in the hard yards, so why can't a hard day's work come with a happy ending? I think it's time we all take matters into our own hands and make sure we give ourselves that happy ending as the work day grinds to a halt. Maybe your happy ending is a drink with the boys, maybe it's dancing on table tops in a smoky club until 3am, or maybe it's cheering on your local jelly wrestling team. Whatever it is, reward yourself. You deserve it!"

Soon enough, the "movement" started appearing in online forums but the cultural jammers weren't far behind.

Just what or who is the "Zero movement"?

Simply put, Coke.

Over to the jammers (who have created a site, "The Zero Movement"):

"They've bought billboards and the backs of magazines.

"They call themselves 'the zero movement', but what are they?

"They're a bunch of advertising wankers pretending to be a grass-roots movement.

They're spending Coca-Cola's money to try to get you interested in drinking a product called 'Coca-Cola Zero'.

"So what is this great new product? Well, if it's anything like the US version, it's a can of undisclosed ingredients mixed with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Yum!"

This kind of viral advertising and "grass-roots" marketing is becoming increasingly common in an environment saturated with useless products, drinks and food. It's legal and possibly quite effective, though ethically suspect. The only reason a company like Coke wouldn't want to be immediately associated with its product is because the organisation is suffering in an age where its dodgy workplace practices are under the spotlight like never before.

Another brave multinational hides behind (attempted) anonymity.


Blogger Shabadoo said...


This is the funniest thing I've heard in ages...have a sense of humour, mate, they've just done a fantastic piss-take on all the wanky pretentious adbusters/"buy nothing day"/anti-corporate crap the kidz (tm) are so in love with these days. Turnabout is very much fair play. (And, oh Christ, I see the idiotic aspartame conspiracy has reared its ugly head again...this just keeps getting better.)

Sounds like someone needs a "happy ending" of a different sort at the end of a hard Tuesday. Good on ya, Coke!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 7:19:00 pm  
Blogger roseg said...

On the other hand they're skating on thin ice here. When I read the post (without knowing it was about Coca-Cola) I thought it was satire. Wouldn't take too much to turn it into a big PR mistake for Coke. Are you listening Adbusters? Billboard Liberation Front? CNNNN?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 8:08:00 pm  
Blogger David Heidelberg said...

I actually drank one the other day - Tasted like absolute shite.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 9:46:00 pm  
Blogger HisHineness said...

"...though ethnically suspect.".

How is it "ethnically suspect"? Are the evil jooos behind this?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 12:59:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Really? I quite like the stuff, even before I knew about this.

Roseg, I think you make a big mistake in thinking that anyone cares what a bunch of art students and malcontents think.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 10:25:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Other companies trying this kind of stuff, such as Sony, have felt a backlash on the streets.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:03:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

PS It isn't only CC's workplace practices that are under scrutiny. Those who want to defend the company should research its activities in the global South, especially with regard to water.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Oh, yes, leftvegdrunk...graffiti is a GREAT way to endear yourself to the masses.

We had some taggers on our street...As much as I hate the Saudis, I'd love to see some Old Skewl Koranic punishment and loss of hands for that sorta crap. Send those kids to Chop-Chop Square, chop chop!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 4:43:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, I think you missed the point. The Sony ads were impersonating street graffiti - yes, to endear Sony to the masses, in this case a particular market segment. I guess corporations don't share your views about graffiti.

Without digressing too far - I had an argument with a mate one night about graffiti (street art to some). I am not a fan of all of it, to be sure, but it has its place. And I find the big neon Coke sign at the top of William St (the example we argued about) more offensive than any graffiti I have ever seen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 7:30:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I truly wonder what you guys have against this kind of thing. If anything, I get the feeling it's a little lame - especially when I read the faux comments on their blog about how great the zero movement is.

However, so the fuck what? Ask yourselves - why is it spoiling your day? What offends you about it? At some point, the campaign will evolve into an advertisement for Coke Zero - otherwise it's a waste of time and money. I cannot understand why you feel so mislead and hurt by it.

And so what if they're hiding, Ant? What they're hiding is pretty harmless - the fact that they're making a new low calorie drink. OOOOOOOH scary stuff. And it won't be hidden for long. The zero campaign's corporate motives will be revealed sooner or later.

Seriously, some of you guys really need to chill the fuck out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 9:08:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Wow - Antony! You must read Tim Blair! that "ethnically" was edited most expeditiously!

Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:57:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

James, no one is hurt or feeling misled. Don't be a pretentious twat.

And well done to Blair for picking up the typo. What a legend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:59:00 am  
Blogger HisHineness said...

Why is Blair getting credit for a typo that I picked up in comment #4 above?

Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:11:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

DBO - if no one is feeling misled, why is it "ethically" suspect?

And why does pointing that out make me "pretentious"?


Thursday, January 12, 2006 8:09:00 pm  
Blogger googlebombcoke said...

Time for a good ol' fashioned googlebomb.

coke zero

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 6:31:00 pm  

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