In 1993, Grunge was incredibly popular, Smells Like Teen Spirit was topping the charts. and Seinfeld – the “show about nothing – was the ratings-winner on TV. Coca-Cola decided to create a product they could market to cynical hipsters by being cynical and hipsterish.
Their market research told them that “Coke” was the second most recognisable word across all languages in the world. The first word was “OK”.
Deciding to take advantage of this existing brand potential, they created a soft drink with this name and conceived a counter-intuitive advertising campaign that intentionally targeted people who did not like advertising.
The taste of the soda was marketed – unsurprisingly – as “just OK” and the advertising campaign went out of its way to deliberately encourage negative publicity.
The cans were monotone (with occasional red text) and designed in a disaffected, surreal art style and carried slogans such as “What’s the point of OK? Well, what’s the point of anything?”, “There is no real secret to feeling OK” and “Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.”
Cans also sported a “Coincidence” – an odd OK Soda-themed urban legend set in various towns around the United States,
Coke’s marketing team also mailed out these “Coincidences” as chain letters to promote the soda, and in turn, these chain letters were read on TV spots for OK Soda.
Coca-Cola launched OK Soda in selected cities around the US in the summer of 1993 and predicted its new soft drink would be a huge success.
Despite a US-wide advertising campaign and intense media attention, the soda failed to perform and ended up selling just over a million cases before it was scrapped after just seven months.