Come Fashion Month and you see the cans of Diet Coke popping open in the hands of every fashionista wandering the couture aisles. And this year, the fizz becomes even more fashionable, with the super-chic cans designed by Marc Jacobs, the brand’s new Creative Director.
Paying homage to female empowerment in order to emphasise Diet Coke’s Sparkling Together for 30 Years tagline, Jacobs’ designs include a flurry of bow ties over a model in a strong-shouldered tuxedo and top hat to portray the ’80s Broadway razzle-dazzle; his own signature swallows flitting around a model dressed in a bustier dress, stiletto heels and a tall trilby hat from the ’90s; and a sporty-chic look straight from the Spring 2013 runway in a nod to the Aughts, surrounded by a shower of polka dots.
Which is all very interesting but exactly why does a soft drink brand would need a leading fashion designer as Creative Director? And how did Diet Coke become the drink of choice for the fashion pack in the first place? Was it a natural evolution or subtle orchestration? Take a look at the top 10 high points in the life of Diet Coke and tell me what you think.
1. It all started with a bang as Diet Coke made its debut with a “world premiere” television campaign that had Linda Evans, Telly Savalas and Bob Hope toasting its success. The spot was filmed at Radio City Music Hall in New York and carried all the mystique of the Academy Awards: the brand’s name in lights on the Radio City marquee, the Rockettes performing onstage, and the voiceover, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world premiere of a great new soft drink called Diet Coke.”
2. Then, in a genius move, Diet Coke bought Columbia Pictures in 1983, stepping up the options for product placement and ensuring that all of Hollywood started toting around the fizzy cans.
3. In 2001, Ben Stiller “Blue Steeled” his way through a fake ad in Zoolander, spraying the brown, syrupy drink all over himself. Derek Zoolander may be a byword for fit-but-dim male models but it did not hurt the brand one bit.
4. The ’90s saw the rise of the paparazzi culture and while the supermodel diet of Marlboro Lights and Diet Coke may not have topped the bestsellers chart, it was there in celebrity photographs everywhere. Diet Coke was now the ultimate accessible fashion accessory: cheaper than an It-bag, more obvious than a perfume and available in every corner.
5. In 1994 came the ad most people are likely to remember: the Diet Coke Break, where the builder gets his kit off to the ballsy Etta James soundtrack. Clever, funny, sexy and a perfect counterpoint to the era’s stodgy campaigns, it further cemented Diet Coke’s position as “trendy”.
6. In 2008, Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field gave the Diet Coke bottle a limited edition makeover. In 2009, Moschino, Donatella Versace, Angela Missoni, Alberto Ferreti, Consuelo Castiglioni and Etro designed their own Diet Coke couture bottles to raise money for the victims of Abruzzo’s earthquake.
7. Come 2010 and Diet Coke cans as hair rollers became the real stars of Lady Gaga’s Telephone music video in one of the smartest feats of product placement ever.
8. Then dawned the era of Karl Lagerfeld, who declared: “I drink Diet Coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink tea; I drink anything else.” The fact that he only drank it from a crystal goblet simply upped the drink’s cachet. Subsequently, Lagerfeld worked with Diet Coke as Creative Director, launching a bottle design with a troupe of male models dressed up like, um, Karl Lagerfeld.
9. In 2012, Diet Coke collaborated with beauty giant Benefit, creating three cans inspired by the bestselling Benetint, Posietint and Cha Cha tint.
10. Jean Paul Gaultier was the creative director of Diet Coke in 2012 before Marc Jacobs stepped in. His designs incorporated all of the JPG signatures – corsets, breton stripes and body art. To advertise the Tattoo bottle the designer chose Ms Daisy Lowe, who matched the design of the bottle as she was decorated in head-to-toe body art.
And now back to Marc Jacobs, who has designed three cans and three bottles for the brand’s 30th anniversary, along with starring in a series of print ads and a cheeky short film entitled Marc Jacobs’ Photo Booth Break, which is his own take on the Diet Coke hunk ads from the 90s.
Personally, though, what I am drooling over the new Diet Coke hunk ad, in which British model Andrew Cooper sizzles as a totally hunky gardener. He’s seen pushing a lawnmower while a group of women ogles him shamelessly. One of the women sends a can of Diet Coke rolling down a hill. He picks it up, opens it and the contents come shooting out, spraying his shirt – so he removes it, revealing his well-muscled chest. The womens’ jaws drop. Take a look and tell me if you like the eye candy!