Zero Calories, Supplemented With Rich Color and Cool Illustration

Every week or so I drive by a Coke Zero billboard, and one day, in those few seconds, it really caught my attention, as I noticed that it is not only photographic but also illustrative.

The image of a young man stands out because he is outlined in black, and some of his facial features, even the stubble on his face, are emphasized in black, just subtlety enough to not notice on first glance. The billboard appears to be 2-color — I’m guessing expensive spot colors, because the black is a richer than life black, and the red amazingly deep and vibrant. The font used for the word “zero” is retro looking, with rounded, digital looking letters decreasing weight. Wow, and that works with the swirly Coca-Cola logo.

After some research, it turns out that Coke Zero is Coca-Cola’s biggest product launch in 22 years. Now I’m sure the 2 colors are spot colors used for the extra punch they provide. A well-known poster artist and illustrator, Evan Hecox, was asked to do the billboard, but he turned it down. But the billboard definitely imitates his style, which is illustrative with a controlled color palette.

Coca-Cola has gotten some bad press for their marketing techniques for Coke Zero, like using a front group and fake blog to promote the product. However, using front groups is not uncommon, ethical or not.

The campaign didn’t fly in Finland, because it was considered derogatory toward women, but Coke Zero is primarily marketed toward young adult males.

At least it makes me hungry to use some pantone colors.