Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar will take center court during one of sport’s biggest stages with a set of NCAA March Madness TV spots – one featuring 2021-2022 NBA MVP frontrunner, Joel Embiid and Naismith Hall of Famer, Julius Erving (Dr. J.) and another spot featuring four-time NCAA champion, Breanna Stewart and Naismith Hall of Famer, Lisa Leslie.
The “Debate the Goatness” campaign, which kicks off in the United States on Selection Sunday, March 13th and runs throughout the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournaments, marks the next chapter of the “Best Coke Ever?” global platform celebrating the brand’s 2021 reformulated recipe and updated packaging design.
In the spots, Embiid and Stewart approach a Coca‑Cola® vending machine when they hear the voices of their peers, Erving and Leslie. The inner dialogue shifts to a “Best Ever” debate when deciding between Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar and Coca‑Cola® Original Taste.
The creative concept behind the basketball-themed campaign leans into ongoing conversations about the “G.O.A.T.”, or greatest of all time. Whether it’s debating sports greats or the “Best Coke Ever?,” the campaign is designed to spark curiosity and a playful debate with consumers and fans.
The fandom around the Men’s and Women’s tournaments, make March Madness the perfect stage to continue the momentum around Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar.
“There’s nothing like March Madness and the excitement and passion from fans,” said Kansas University alumnus and current NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid. “This year I get to kick back with a Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar and watch my Jayhawks as a top seed—all with Dr. J in my head—so it may be the best tournament ever.”
Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar is clearly a fan favorite. Since the July 2021 relaunch, Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar is growing at 1.6 times the speed of the Diet Sparkling Soft Drink category. Notably, 32% of drinkers are new to the brand.
“March Madness is such an exciting time in collegiate sports where moments of Real Magic come to life on the court, in arenas, on campuses and around TVs across the country,” said Rafa Prandini, Coca‑Cola Trademark Category Lead for the North America Operating Unit. “It’s a time when the next generation of basketball ‘greats’ are made, and it is the perfect platform to continue driving relevance with current and future Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar drinkers.”
The “Debate the Goatness” campaign will run throughout both Men’s and Women’s tournaments including March Madness Live, across Bleacher Report, CBS, Warner Media properties and ESPN. The two TV commercials will rotate equally throughout both the Men’s and Women’s tournament—giving the two commercials equal coverage throughout March Madness. “Best Coke Ever?” creative also will be seen across digital and out-of-home media throughout the tournament.
While Selection Sunday is the official tipoff to March Madness, Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar will take center court during the Men’s and Women’s Final Four tournaments in New Orleans and Minneapolis, respectively. From Fan Fest to March Madness Music Fest and much more, fans will have many opportunities to experience the “Best Final Four Ever.”