Coca-Cola Zero was originally launched in Great Britain in 2006 to great fan fare. Through the traditional marketing channels expected from the world’s largest beverage company, Coca-Cola made news and noise when introducing its sugar-free and calorie-free twist on its eponymous beverage.

Demand for Coke Zero started strong yet awareness of its nutritional content was surprisingly low. Research showed half of people surveyed didn’t realize the drink didn’t contain sugar. Ultimately, consumers weren’t clued in to the details about their new beverage of choice.

"Half of people surveyed didn’t realize the drink didn’t contain sugar."

In 2016, Coca-Cola re-launched the product with a new name and a new taste. The Coca-Cola GB marketing team took this opportunity to step in and educate the marketplace, and did so in a back-to-basics way: an all-out, all-in sampling campaign that brought Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to the masses.

Perfectly Served Samples

Through a July brand marketing launch, complete with with television, radio, outdoor, digital and public transit promotions, more than 1,500 Coca-Cola activity teams took to 179 cities and towns throughout England, Scotland and Wales to give away “perfectly served” Coca-Cola Zero Sugar samples.

"More than 4.5 million Coca-Cola Zero Sugar samples were served."

With a goal of educating 4.5 million UK consumers, the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar ambassadors showed up in bustling city transportation hubs, grocery stores and university fairs. The goal for each pour was to provide a genuine Coca-Cola experience by appealing to consumers’ five senses. With about 20 seconds for each interaction, the senses were tapped by:

  • Sight: Receiving the beverage from someone with a smile, in a branded setting
  • Touch: Drinking the beverage stored at the optimal 3 degree Celsius
  • Sound: Hearing the popping of the tab and fizzing of the bubbles 
  • Smell: Acknowledging the distinct Coca-Cola aroma after the bottle was opened
  • Taste: Enjoying the same great taste as Coca-Cola, but with zero sugar

After interacting with the brand ambassadors, samplers were encouraged to recycle their cans and contribute to Coca-Cola’s sustainable mission. In total, more than 4.5 million Coke Zero Sugar samples were served.

The most effective in-person brand experiences are amplified through online activations, with consumers sharing what’s happening on their social networks. The Coke Zero Sugar sampling tour included a mobile set up, which made its debut at the 10-day British Summertime Festival and offered fans an opportunity to create personalized animated images for social sharing.

The Value of the Venture

Coca-Cola estimated that through TV, radio, outdoor, digital and public transportation advertisements, the campaign reached 98 percent of all adults in Great Britain at a frequency of at least 32 times from July to October, 2016.

"The campaign will reached 98 percent of all adults in Great Britain at a frequency of at least 32 times from July to October, 2016."


Coupled with the millions of free samples, word on the street was out that Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is rich in taste without the sugar and calories. The product and its marketing strategy align with Coca-Cola’s commitment to bring more choice to consumers and to build awareness of and access to no and low-sugar alternatives.

“Channels such as TV and radio can help us spread the word but there is nothing like the back to basics approach of product sampling,” said Coca-Cola Great Britain Senior Brand Manager Christina Lecky. “When we say great Coca-Cola taste with no sugar, we really mean it. For 4.5 million UK consumers, tasting is indeed believing.”