Apparently, Diet Coke's new ad campaign: "You're on!" is drawing fire for being a terribly irresponsible and naughty DRUG REFERENCE FOR DRUGGIES. Sometimes the billboards say, "Diet Coke. You're on." And sometimes they say, "You're on. Diet Coke." But either way, they're clearly talking about your brain being on something (DRUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and they don't mean the aspartame witch-particles currently chewing through your gray matter and pooping out cancer!
A commercial shows various people downing the product to get psyched up before speeches and performances. Taylor Swift takes a—how shall I put this?—hit backstage, then says, "Great. Let's go." Hey, that's nothing like drugs at all. In The New York Times, a Coca-Cola exec says the ads show how the drink provides "uplift for those moments when you really need to be on." Hey, that's nothing like drugs at all.
The campaign's wording is so obvious, I'd bet client and agency went this route on purpose. The ads are certainly getting extra attention, and it's not so offensive as to cause the brand harm. Plus, there's plausible deniability.
The "backlash" (which has mostly been good-natured internet mockery, as far as I can tell, but who am I to pooh-pooh a chance to make fun of a fake backlash!?!?) was loud enough to prompt an official statement from the Coca-Cola Corporation:
"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."
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.
I didn't think Diet Coke was on drugs before, but now I'm not so sure.