In January 1994, a now iconic ad featured female office workers taking their break at 11:30 am to crowd around the window as a construction worker below strips off his shirt and relaxes with a Diet Coke. When the ad, called “Diet Coke Break” aired, the Diet Coke hunk was born.  The Diet Coke break concept has been repeated and updated four times over the intervening years. This week, our European colleagues have launched the fifth version of the ad,” Gardener.” The release was kicked off with a fun looking party at London restaurant Sketch yesterday.  If you look closely, you can see some of the historical items we sent to London for the event. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some facts and history about the “Hunk” ads. The initial ad became an instant phenomenon and create a few interesting stories.  The ads star, Lucky Vanos quickly became a celebrity and was featured in an second Diet Coke spot called “Magazine” in 1995.  The musical track for the ad performed by Etta James was “I Just want to Make Love to You” and was a 1954 blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters.  The Etta James cover was recorded in 1961.  Due to the popularity of the ad in England, the song was re-released as a single and reached as high as # 5 on the BBC charts. In 1997, a new version of the hunk ad was released featuring Robert Merrill as the object of attention.  Merrill played a shirtless window washer who is the cause of an impromptu meeting as people arrive to watch him take his break.  Robert Merrill reflected on the ad with our marketing team this year and shared this story. “One of the most memorable moments was in the UK in 1998 at the National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall.  We won ‘Most Popular Advert’. I was in a daze, yet excited as I walked up to the stage to give the acceptance speech.  It was so surreal.  I managed to say a few intelligent things and made the audience laugh by saying that "there is so much talent out here in the room, and all I had to do was take my kit off!" The next “hunk” was Paul Johansson who appeared as a Diet Coke delivery man.  Before Paul’s days as a delivery man, he was a star basketball player and even played for the Canadian National Basketball team.  He gave up basketball for acting and had small parts in Beverly Hills 90210 and Santa Barbara before being cast as the delivery hunk. The hunk ads took a break (pun intended) for a decade until it was updated when an elevator technician has to keep fixing the lift while rescuing stranded female passengers. The 2007 ad featured the 28 year old Frenchman Francois Xavier as the hunk who repels into the elevator to the admiring gaze of the women who stranded it. ^TR