Fast forward to 2014, and a new, tongue-in-cheek ad campaign from the company seems to make a nod to actual cocaine addiction. In San Francisco and New York, new Diet Coke billboards have popped up featuring saccharine messages geared towards young people who moved to the big city with big dreams. "You're on," reads the final line, closely followed by the word "Coke."
At first glance, "You're on. Diet Coke" really just looks like "You're on Coke." And it's hard to believe this wasn't intentional:
The ads, created by Manhattan-based agency Droga5, have gained a lot of media attention, eventually causing Coca-Cola to release a statement. Via AdWeek:
This advertising is one part of the new campaign for Diet Coke, which is called 'You're On.' It celebrates ambitious young achievers from all walks of life and reminds them that Diet Coke is there to support them in the moments when they are at their best. Every single day, young people around the world experience 'You're On' moments big and small. It could be a job interview or a national TV interview, a first date or a final exam, a presentation to your boss or a performance in front of thousands. The Diet Coke logo is the centerpiece of the ad campaign. Diet Coke in no way endorses or supports the use of any illegal substance.
Meanwhile, Americans are cutting back on soda. In 2013, the average American drank around 38.6 gallons of soda a year, according to The Associated Press, down significantly from an average of 54 gallons per year in 1998.
Sales of diet sodas in the United States dropped nearly 7 percent in 2013 amid consumer fears about artificial sweeteners.
And Coca-Cola last month announced a 3 percent drop in soda sales volume in North America.