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Diet Coke – Definitely Not The Real Thing

It all feels a bit Blah De Blah as Diet Coke go for Grannies Behaving Badly while the meerkats return with a slightly less controversial car insurance advert than one of their rivals.

Diet Coke have gone for an inter-generational mix of two grannies, Vera and Gladys, as they swipe through a dating app and refer to their prospective dates in yoof and street terminology, like “Total Playa!!!” and “I’m in!”

Having read dozens of sitcom scripts from new writers that try to put yoof words into old people’s mouths, I’m yet to read one that works. And I don’t think Diet Coke have done themselves any favours here either. It really feels like they’ve chucked ideas at a wall and thrown their hands up and said, “We don’t know what Diet Coke means anymore!” Is it for young people or old people or fun people or bold people? Whatever happened to the simplicity of “Diet Coke break” and the shirt-off guy?

Sitcom scripts that have things happen ‘because they’re funny’ create real problems for themselves because it’s the self-indulgent wishes of the writer, not the truth of the story. You can either indulge yourself or the audience, rarely both. Del Boy didn’t fall through the open bar flap ‘because it was funny’, he did it because his self-deluded over-confidence stopped him from checking that the bar was still there before he leant on it. And this advert feels like a case of, “Oooh, wouldn’t it be funny to have two old women checking out old men on a Tinder-esque app?” “Oooh, and then they could speak like urban kids!” “Hurrah!”

So what do Vera and Gladys get up to next? Not much, I reckon, because there’s no particular relationship between them that’s of any interest, no difference of attitude, no status games to be played. Go on, DC, prove me wrong.

Compare the Car Insurance Ads

Showing how it could be done if those things were in place, High Status Aleksandr talks out loud and shares some information that Low Status Sergei accepts as an instruction because it’s his job to follow Aleksandr’s commandments. You don’t have to have a master-and-servant relationship all the time, but comedy relationships are often built on status which can then be inverted.

The latest advert heralds Compare The Market’s expansion of AutoSergei into car insurance and the comedy comes from the confusion between Aleksandr talking about the fully automated search tool on the website while driver Sergei thinks he’s talking about the car. With hysterical results.

And finally…

A rant.

I read an interesting article this week about the great potential loss to the ad industry because men were demanding flexible working arrangements. While obviously flexible working arrangements for men is a brilliant idea, surely this is something women have been banging on about for ages? And if it’s a case of ad agencies being way, way, way behind the times when it comes to reflecting modern life, how about the advertising industry stops patting itself on the back with this idea that it’s all cutting edge and taking massive risks in life. Want to prove how cutting edge your firm is? Employ some working-class people. Or some old people so you don’t come up with car crashes like the Diet Coke one above. Or, heaven forbid, some disabled people so that these demographics are part of your organic makeup and aren’t just focus groups for you to call on when it suits you. This survey just proves that life only becomes visible and change only really happens when white, middle-class, able-bodied heterosexual men are affected and want to finally do something about it.

Rant over.


Published by Declan Hill

I write about sitcoms in advertising.

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