Coca-Cola Life is the company’s new green soda.

It’s a mix of sugar and stevia--or natural (if processed) sweeteners.

At a guttural level, I don’t find the bottle all that appealing to consume. Do you?

But green is an interesting label choice for many reasons…

…most of all, that green is a complement to red, which is basically an opposite that pairs well.

But if Coca-Cola Life is the opposite of Coca-Cola, what’s that say about Coca Cola?

It’s death.

Of course that’s a touch absurd, but Coca-Cola--sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup--isn’t healthy (or even nutritionally beneficial) by any serious scientific account.

But what makes Coke’s new "Life" branding particularly audacious is that low/no calorie sweeteners are bad for you, too.

Coca-Cola Debuts "Life" Brand, Highlights Deadliness Of Regular Coke

Coca-Cola Life is marketed as a new, healthier alternative to regular Coke. But sometimes a green label implies the exact opposite of what it should.

The red splash of Coca Cola is one of the most recognizable pieces of branding across the globe. It’s stamped on cans, bottles, and polar bears of every nation. But for the soft drink giant’s Argentinian spinoff, Coca-Cola Life, the new label is green.

Now the green label is an absurdly obvious bit of greenwashing--the bottle is 30% plant plastics, so marketers just had to paint it green somewhere--but it also implies vigor, purity, and the healthy allure of a leafy green vegetable performing photosynthesis. No doubt, those implications are intentional, to subconsciously convey that Coca-Cola Life uses a blend of sugar and stevia extract, which cuts a 200 milliliter serving down to a mere 36 calories with “naturally sweetening” ingredients.

I actually find the new label a bit nauseating. Maybe that’s because, on a bottle "Coke Life" becomes a green-on-brown affair, more akin to compost than to an artificially dyed sweet treat.

But I suspect there’s a deeper idea gnawing at my insides. In terms of color theory, there is no greater opposite to Coke’s classic red than green. The two are complementary colors that reside on opposite ends of the color wheel. So if Coca Cola Life is green, then what’s that say about its opposite, Coca Cola Classic? Is it…is it death?

Yes, actually. Coca Cola classic is delicious, delicious death. And the audaciously named Coca-Cola “Life”? It’s not just greenwashing; it’s healthwashing.

See more here.

[Hat tip: Treehugger]

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19 Comments

  • Moon Kim

    In terms of color theory, green goes well with brown in the right context.  Your subjectivity is questionable.

  • Ralf J.Ritter

    "Death" was the first association that came to mind when seeing "Life". You are so right about the implications for the other variants. I am curious how it tastes...generally consumers hate the taste of stevia unless it is neutralized with something like erythritol. Green is also risky choice for a global brand -- I have seen huge launches fail in Asia with exactly the hue of green I see on the label -- it looks somewhat depressing/irritating and not at all "natural", "energetic".

  • Ralf J.Ritter

    If this is indeed about a "healthier Coke", it might leave some consumers wondering about what that says about the current variants.The main thing is that the green color which has been selected is not likely to make a huge impact on the shelf. Coke Zero tends to target men who may feel that "Diet" or "Li ht" is too feminine, so no argument about the growth of Zero and also no argument about brand loyalty.

  • bball123

    This is about making a healthier Coke variant.  Sugar reduction from HFCS with Stevia and other sweetness flavor modulations can help improve the Brand.  But people who like Coke or Diet Coke are very loyal to their products.  Look at what Zero is doing, it has the best growth rate of all of the Cola variants.  Consumers want lower carbs and calories, plus ingredients that are better for your health.

  • mhensgen

    Have disagreed with some of your takeaways before Mark, but you nailed this one...loved your " more akin to compost" line. How awsomely goofy, sadly expected and almost nonsensical is Coke's "green-weenie" choice. Looks like the result of some junior high marketing club project. Apparently the result of someone's zeal to be environmentally correct, while forgetting the product is brown. Whew!

  • Doug Lowell

    Mark, in a few strokes you reveal the complete blindness of Coca-Cola to the meaning of their own actions. If I were them, I would pay you to "read" every product they ever launch. Clearly they're not capable.
     

  • Matthew Pike

    It's just not very appealing is it, the message is but green looks very old fashioned some how

  • BeksB

    If Coca-cola starts using stevia as a sweetener, it might be important to think about its competitors doing the same. The increase of the demand for stevia might turn out bad for countries who produce the plant; will we end up with mega-monocrops, GMO stevia, and human rights abuse in the upcoming years? Another awesome plant whose good will turn out bad and discredit the "pioneers" of stevia-sweetened sodas like Zevia?

  • Regan Wolfrom

    What does stevia extract have to do with artificial sweeteners?

    I've been waiting for years to find an enjoyable cola product that uses stevia; to me, cutting calories by more than half by blending with a natural alternative sweetener is a good thing.

  • t3d

    Maybe if they had picked a purer green or a bright lime green instead of a dirty green/grey it wouldn't look so unappealing. It'll fit right in with the stuff at Army Surplus stores.

  • Nathan Adams

    My first thought was that the green was a reference to the old (old old) slightly greenish glass bottles.

    Nothing revolutionary about the cola itself though. Sounds just like Coke's answer to Pepsi Next — which while much much better than the horrors of diet cola's, still doesn't taste quite right. 

  • Joshua Lee

    Color scheme really doesn't appeal to me. I would have gone white label with green letters. 

  • Simon Cohen

    Sigh. Coca-Cola is a soft drink. Your dentist has been telling you that soft drinks cause cavities since you were old enough to brush. We know that they're bad for us. It's time to stop complaining about the product ("death" sheesh!) and just take some f'ing responsibility for what we put in our own bodies. They can call it whatever they want. Colour it however they want. Create as many ads in support of that product as they want. If you don't read the label before you consume it, or despite all efforts to teach you that it is a high-calorie heavily sweetened product you gulp down 2 a day every day, that is one hundred percent your fault. 

  • nap12

    It creates a duality and spectrum that is so dull and unreal, that I would just give up on coke already. They're competing with many other drink companies that have been keeping their cola drinks real for years, why are we gonna settle for this?