Coke Zero may have been given it’s name because it has zero calories, but in my opinion the name comes from the fact that this beverage has zero taste. Now, keep in mind I didn’t say flavor. The flavor of Coke Zero is reminiscent of a can of an off-brand foreign diet cola found in a Korean grocer’s refrigerator. So Coke Zero definitely has a flavor, it’s just lacking in taste. By this I mean that Coke Zero tastes as much as regular Coca Cola as frog legs taste like chicken. Like frog legs, there’s a somewhat familiar taste, but that’s where the similarity ends.
It seems that Coke Zero, much like Pepsi Max, was created for no other purpose than to entice men into drinking diet colas. A man might feel rather emasculated by sipping from the silver Diet Coke can, but manufacture some calorie-free cola with the flavor profile of motor oil, stick into a manly black can, and presto! No man feels manly drinking anything with “diet” in the title (which explains why they also don’t like “lite” beer), but change the word diet to “zero” and suddenly it’s no longer shameful. After all, the word “zero” brings to mind Japanese kamikaze pilots. It rhymes with the word “hero”, and “Nero”. Let’s face it, Nero was a ruthless despot. Now that’s manly.
The same can be said for Pepsi Max. Max is a very manly word. It evokes power. It is a man word of the highest order. The fact that both soft drinks were released to the public around the same time just proves that these two beverages are not new or revolutionary or different; they are just marketing gimmicks.
Are men gullible enough to fall for this type of gimmick? Well, gender-specific branding has been around for decades and it is aimed at women too. Men drink Gatorade, women drink Vitamin Water. Men smoke Camels, women smoke Virginia Slims, Men shave with a Mach 4, women shave with a Venus. Men like Lava soap, women like foaming gentle cleansers containing herbal extracts and mico-bead exfoliants. Women love aerobic videos and Zumba dvds, but give an exercise program a manly name like P90X and you’ve captures a whole new demographic.
So if you ask why to Coke Zero, the answer, quite simply is: Someone has to peddle diet cola to male consumers, so it may as well be the folks at Coca Cola and Pepsi.