Coca Cola’s “2nd Lives” Initiative – (Undercooked?) Branding at its Best

There’s been a decent amount of design and branding buzz since Coca Cola rolled out its “2nd Lives” campaign, which claims to bring a host of fun new uses to a bottle of coke after it’s been chugged down.  Launched first in Vietnam, the campaign distributes kits – 40,000 to start out with, each containing 16 inserts to turn plastic bottles into soap dispensers, squirt guns, bubble makers, and more – in an effort to encourage consumers to recycle.  And, of course, to saturate the home and office with as many Coke logos as possible.


“What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?” the elegant, warm video begins.  And while it posits a wide variety of useful, memory-making, community-building applications for this new afterlife of the Cola container, the real question, I suppose, is whether the campaign will functionally reduce net plastic waste.  There’s certainly no anticipation of a dip in Cola demand, so bottles will be produced regardless, making “2ndLives” bank on consumer adoption as a cost-cutter or novelty to fulfill its promise.  And while some functions seem more than a little impractical (oversized markers for a child’s hands?  how heavy is a free-weight filled with water?) a few may have some functional heft – spray bottles, soap dispensers, and detergent containers come to mind.


AdWeek also raised a simple, highly pertinent question: is it the best idea to reduce plastic waste by generating lots of plastic inserts – even if they’re from recycled plastics?  Probably not.  Though my guess is most people won’t ask these questions, and will probably just get swept up in the novelty, and oddly alluring, minimal design of these inserts – like I was.  More or less, this is branding at its best.



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