Tag Archives: Diet Coke

Advertising: Is Diet Coke as classy as it wants us to believe?

Last summer, my partner and I spent a long weekend in Miami, and we ate at a fantastic Indian restaurant (bad, bad service, awesome food). After wandering around South Beach for hours (including a half-mile trek in the sand), I was super thirsty, and at the restaurant I ordered a water and a Diet Coke. I just had one of those cravings.

Later that night, while talking about the restaurant, my partner mentioned something about “ordering a Diet Coke in a classy restaurant.” That is, he was pointing out the unclassiness of ordering a Diet Coke at an expensive, sit-down, nice establishment.


I hadn’t given his pronouncement much thought until I recently saw a commercial for Diet Coke, in which Tom Colicchio, famous New York chef and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef series, told me it was okay to order a Diet Coke in a classy restaurant.


“When it comes to taste, it’s important to know the difference between being sophisticated and, uh, whatever that is…,” says Colicchio in the opening of the commercial, as he watches a waiter at an upscale restaurant bring a woman an entrée most would call “fancy.”

“You don’t have to overcomplicate it,” Colicchio continues, as he sits down at the bar. The bartender pours a Diet Coke into a glass for him. “No gimmicks, no fads…just keep it simple. Because when you start with good taste, you don’t need anything else. ”

Diet Coke is attempting three major things: 1) to draw in customers from the higher-echelon, foodie segment; 2) to tell current customers Diet Coke isn’t just for those drive-through Styrofoam cups, and 3) to tell men it’s okay for them to drink Diet Coke. (We’ll just focus on the first two.)

The marketing strategy at work here is fantastic. Diet Coke has determined a segment of the population it isn’t currently serving and that their research has shown might be receptive to and perhaps benefit from its product.

In addition, the long-term goals here are lofty and profitable: if people begin craving a Diet Coke with any type of meal, consumer demand might encourage restaurants who don’t sell soft drinks now to do so in the future. And this, of course, increases Diet Coke’s sales in the restaurant segment.

But will any of this advertising work? Except for that one time in Miami (no, really), I normally order a glass of water or wine at a nice restaurant. This isn’t uncommon by any means, and because my curiosity was piqued, I explored the drinking habits of fellow Diet Cokers I found.

*Editor’s note: for the context of these purposes, “fast-food restaurant” is defined as an establishment like McDonalds or Taco Bell; “sit-down restaurant” is defined as an establishment like Applebee’s or O’Charley’s; and “fine-dining restaurant” is defined as, well, none of the major chains, the food is excellent, a bit pricey, and you feel you should dress up when you go.

Sarah* is a self-proclaimed Diet Coke drinker who has one to two cans or glasses a day. When she visits fast-food restaurants and sit-down restaurants, she’s been known to order a Diet Coke. However, she says, “I usually drink wine at fine dining establishments.” Ah, my partner would like her.

Jane, also a Diet Coker, only drinks it from cans or 20-oz bottles (one or two a day). But she only drinks water when eating out, no matter what type of restaurant it is.

A gal who has two to three Diet Cokes a week, Elizabeth orders only Diet Coke at fast-food restaurants, rarely at sit-down restaurants and never at fine-dining restaurants.

Sheila “hardly ever” has a Diet Coke. Hardly ever as in probably once or twice a year.

And when Nicole has a Diet Coke, which is maybe once every two months (and even then, that’s stretching it), it’s just at a fast-food restaurant. “Or at a bar mixed with some rum!”

Ann concurs. She’s been “Diet Coke free for two years,” but admits: “The only way to drink Diet Coke is with rum.”

And finally, we have what Diet Coke might consider its ideal customer: Mary, a Diet Coker, who, though she’s cut back from three to four a day to one a day, has been known to drink Diet Coke at each of the three different types of establishments.

A total of 12 individuals responded to my survey (11 females, 1 male). I know, not exactly scientific, but you have to admit, it has been fun.

Of those 12:

  • 2 drink absolutely no soft drinks
  • One prefers Diet Pepsi
  • Another prefers Diet Dr. Pepper
  • One is a former, recovering Diet Coke drinker
  • Two rarely drink soft drinks, but when they do, they choose Diet Coke
  • One tolerates the taste of Diet Coke for weight-loss reasons
  • Four out of 12 people surveyed consider themselves regular-basis Diet Coke drinkers

And now for the final stat of the survey: of those who consider themselves regular-basis Diet Coke drinkers, only one of them admits to drinking the beverage in a fine-dining establishment.


According to my unscientific survey, Diet Coke has definitely pinpointed a market. And whether they can beat out wine and water (among women) to become a favorite option at fine-dining establishments, well, that may be a challenge. I suggest Diet Coke narrow its goals down to one: encouraging current drinkers to drink it anywhere and everywhere. Just don’t bring a Styrofoam take-out cup into a fine-dining establishment.

*names were changed to protect Diet Cokers!

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A day or so in the life of a compulsive recycler (is there an A&E show for this?)

I tend to drive people a little crazy with my recycling. I don’t carry a soapbox in my handbag nor am I militant about many things. Or so I thought, until I chronicled roughly 48 (inconsistent) hours of my plastic and paper snatching.

This study isn’t exactly scientific: the bright idea came to me on the night of Jan. 30, which means New Year’s Eve celebrating fell into the 48-hour period. I wasn’t at home, either, but rather at my family’s house for the holidays. So the results are a little skewed. In addition, it forced me to dig things out of the trashcan. Which I don’t usually do. Usually.

But each time I glanced into the trashcan I saw paper, plastic, glass, and steel that could easily be salvaged and reused with just a little effort. What extremes do others go to in order to recycle?

For me, it’s a habit I can’t break. And if I’m ever at your house, I just might rummage through your trash, or patiently explain what paper you can (newspaper) or can’t (paper towels) recycle.

Actually, I’d love to do that.

Dec. 30, 2009

Sitting at the kitchen table at 10:41 p.m. playing a game of cards, I polish off a plastic bottle of water, crunch it up, walk to my bedroom and toss it into my “plastics” recycling bag next to my luggage.

Two minutes later, back at the kitchen table and waiting for my turn to play, I notice empty plastic water and Pepsi bottles in the trash; pull them out, wash, put in dish drainer to dry. Closer inspection reveals a plastic fountain drink lid and straw beneath dirty paper towels. Pull out, wash, dry.

My hands smell funny.

At 10:51 p.m. we’re still playing cards, and I notice an empty 59-oz plastic lemonade bottle on the sink that my mom saved for me! It’s already rinsed out.

She’s learning!

Earlier that day at the public library, I scribbled something down on a library newsletter. After being a sore loser at cards and retreating to my bedroom at 11:35 p.m., I decide I don’t need the scribbled-down note any longer. Tear it up and toss it in my “papers” recycling bag.

I bought something at Dollar General earlier that day and three minutes after slam-dunking the newsletter, I recycled the plastic bag.

Dec. 31, 2009

It’s 8:20 a.m. and while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew in the kitchen, I grab the lemonade, Pepsi, and water bottles I left drying the night before. Plus another water bottle and a McDonald’s iced coffee cup/lid/straw I’d washed a few days ago. Into my plastics bag they all go!

At 8:31 a.m., as I’m walking into the living room to enjoy my coffee and some Saved By The Bell, I detect recycling in the trashcan. It’s a sixth sense. Sure enough, there’s a discarded peanut butter jar, a fast food paper bag and a plastic coffee cup mocking me from atop a mountain of dirty napkins.

I grab the plastic cup and paper bag, but I leave the PB jar. There’s nothing nastier than cleaning peanut butter off of something. But as Zack Morris gets into mishap after mishap, I start to feel guilty. Back to the kitchen. I fill up the PB jar with hot water in order to make washing it a little later a little easier.

My dad walks by and says good morning.

At 8:38 a.m. I head back to the kitchen for more coffee and discover that my dad has poured out the water from the PB jar and has thrown the jar away…again!

An argument ensues.

He tells me that he isn’t wasting his water to clean off something so I can recycle it. He also tells me he isn’t going to recycle and no one can make him. That’s what trash collectors are for.

Yikes. We put our soapboxes away for the time being, but my PB jar gets cleaned and recycled.

At 12:57 p.m., after a trip to the grocery store, I recycle cardboard from Diet Coke and Orange Crush packages. Two minutes later, my mom confesses she put a plastic 2-liter bottle in the trash. She takes it out, rinses it, and gives it to me.

She’s so learning!

At 1:18 p.m., while waiting for my family to get ready so we can go out for lunch, I take the time to organize recycling in my trunk. Already in there are a few bags of plastic coffee and creamer containers from work and some newspapers that need to go, too.

My trunk looks nice now. There’s plenty of room for more recycling!

Back at home, my sister gives me an empty 2-liter Sprite bottle at 3:42 p.m.

Good girl!

At 6:40 p.m., I notice an empty Reynolds Wrap box I forgot I put on the washer.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m making my world-famous stuffed mushrooms. At 7:19 p.m. I’m already late for a party, and I hurriedly toss cardboard mushroom containers from the produce section and a washed-out plastic cream cheese container into my recycling bags. Should probably re-wash that cream cheese container again tomorrow, just in case.

Jan. 1, 2010

I get a late start this day.

At 1:08 p.m., my mom gives me a plastic water bottle to recycle. I’m totally loving this woman, especially when at 1:17 p.m. I find a 2-liter Pepsi bottle she’s washed and left for me on the kitchen sink.

After polishing off the rest of my Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea at 1:54 p.m., I recycle the bottle.

On my drive home that morning, I’d bought a coffee from McDonalds. I decided at 2:44 p.m. to keep the cup and use it again. It’s a good, strong cup.

Around 2:53 p.m., I notice some deli containers in the fridge, full of potato salad and baked beans. Before I can open my mouth, my dad tells me he’ll reuse them.

I leave them alone. For the time being.

Coffee break at 3:42 p.m. and time to reuse the McDonalds cup!

Take empty cardboard toilet paper roll from bathroom trashcan at 3:45 p.m.

Thankfully, my hands do not smell weird.

At 9:23 p.m., my dad puts an empty plastic milk container in the trash. In front of me. I get it out. He shakes his head.

As a final coup before dozing off at 10:24 p.m., I grab a cardboard paper towel roll I catch peeking out of the trashcan and shake it at him, before tossing it into my “papers” recycling bag!

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