Two of basketball’s all-time greats show how the taste of Coca‑Cola® Zero Sugar is so great it’s worth taking—literally—in new NCAA® March Madness®-themed creative airing throughout the 2023 men’s and women’s tournament telecasts.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Tamika Catchings star alongside the comedic duo of Travis Bennett and Dave Burd, aka “Lil Dicky”, in a pair of TV commercials premiering March 4 during the regular season-ending showdown between UNC and Duke. In the spots—which build on the brand’s “Best Coke Ever?” creative platform from last year’s tournament—the hoops icons interrupt the friends’ “best ever” debate by showing off their pick-pocket skills.
“College basketball is a huge passion point for our consumers, and NCAA March Madness is one of the biggest cultural moments of the year,” said Sarah Segers, Brand Manager, Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar. “We’re excited to again engage fans with authentic experiences that bring together their love of both Coke Zero Sugar and this great sport.”
The new spots are a creative, culturally relevant adaptation of Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar’s new “Best Coke Ever?” #TakeATaste global campaign.
“The #TakeATaste campaign—which is grounded in the insight that great-tasting food and beverages stored in shared places are not safe, and that Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar tastes so good it’s worth taking—lends itself so well to basketball,” said Emily Beasley, Manager, Creative Strategy, Coca‑Cola Trademark. “Because at the most basic level, it’s the ultimate game of protectors and takers. This led us to the idea of a battle for possession where we reveal the ‘Best Coke Ever’ with playful showdowns between two pop culture icons and two of the best to ever play the game.”
Bennett and Burd co-star in the hit FX series, “Dave,” which will launch its third season in April, just after the NCAA Final Four. The hilarious stars were slam-dunk choices for the campaign.
“We knew we needed a strong duo to carry these ensemble spots, and we couldn’t have found better partners than Dave and Travis,” Beasley said. “In addition to their natural on-screen chemistry and improvisational talent, these in-real-life close friends are diehard hoops fans.”
Johnson, meanwhile, is both a longtime fan of Coke Zero and partner of The Coca‑Cola Company.
“I’d been drinking Coke Zero Sugar way before they reached out, so it was unbelievable to be part of this campaign,” said Johnson, who played for the 1979 NCAA champion Michigan State Spartans before embarking on a hall-of-fame NBA career. “Dave and Travis are funny, cool guys—we were laughing more than actually working—and I was able to drink my favorite drink on set. It was so natural because we all believe in the product.”
Catchings holds the WNBA record for average steals per game. “When Coke Zero Sugar came to me with the idea and conversation around the ‘Best Coke Ever?’ and its connection to the similar discussion we have in sports, I thought, ‘Oh this is cool!’” she said. “This campaign allows me to pay it forward in helping the game evolve for future generations.”
“As a diehard Lakers fan and longtime fan of women’s basketball, working with Magic Johnson and Tamika Catchings was a dream come true,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t nerd out with him (Magic) as much as I wanted to, but we talked a lot about basketball. We also got to shoot around with Tamika, which was really nice.”
Burd added, “I have always loved Coca‑Cola, so it was a very natural collaboration. I’m excited for the spots to premiere.”
In addition to the TV spots, the NCAA March Madness campaign will come to life via outdoor advertising, sampling, commemorative cans and experiential activations in the NCAA Men’s (Houston) and Women’s (Dallas) Final Four host cities, as well as on-campus events at colleges and universities across the country. Lastly, fans should stay tuned for an announcement from Johnson at the NCAA Men’s Final Four regarding his support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The “Best Coke Ever?” campaign launched in 2021 to showcase Coke Zero Sugar’s refreshed recipe and packaging. Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar continues to deliver strong year-over-year growth and recruit new consumers into the Trademark by providing and expanding consumer choice. The new “Best Coke Ever?” #TakeATaste campaign aims to build on this momentum in 2023.