I once knew a guy who complained that he had trouble appearing "manly" on dates because he was a vegetarian and he drank Diet Coke.
Now, I can't comment about the vegetarianism but Coca-Cola and Pepsi seem to agree with his concern about diet soda. The two mammoth cola brands have launched a re-branding of diet soda for the precious 18-34 year-old male audience, banishing "diet" in favor of "calorie-free," for the launch of two new products, Coke Zero and Pepsi One.
Both products, sweetened with the new carb-free additive Splenda™, rely on campaigns that emphasize taste first and foremost, asserting how similar the calorie-free versions taste to the original. Coke has even gone so far as to launch an ad campaign pretending to sue itself over "taste infringement" because Coke Zero is so darn close to Coke Classic. The product design as well, a black can with thick block lettering, targets men. Some of the commercials are peppered with semi-misogynist male-bonding jokes about "psycho girlfriends" and such.
Will women be alienated by the macho marketing? Well, perhaps that's the goal—a new, great-tasting drink that's good for your waistline, whether "diet" or "calorie-free," runs the risk of cannibalizing from the consumer pool of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi: mainly women. Nobody said it was easy for one company to promote two competing diet drinks. It will be interesting to see if manly men come flocking to Coke Zero and Pepsi One. Everyone knows they make their beverage choices based on taste and taste alone, and if the drink just happens to be calorie-free, so much the better for those six-pack abs.