At Cannes, Coca-Cola Crushes Cans - And Awards

It’s alive, baby! I’m a huge fan of playing with fonts, type, and logos, so I love that this week Coke’s inspired, logo-crunching work has crushed at Cannes.

Kicking off the first award show on Monday evening, the brand’s “Recycle Me” campaign by WPP Open X -- led by Ogilvy New York -- won the Print & Publishing Grand Prix, the first Grand Prix for Coke in 10 years.

Created to encourage recycling, the inspired design idea has the confidence to go to that verboten place -- crushing the brand’s proud, historical, and instantly identifiable logo.

In a process like what happens to compacted, recycled cans, the logo is crunched into various reduced and flattened forms. And then some digital “jaws of life” rescues the newly pummeled logo, removing it from the can.

As with those antique Timex commercials that strap a watch to a car wheel, the 147-year-old Coke logo “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”



The entry video reveals the process. Rather than having human hands handle the can flattening, the agency used machines like mechanical presses to crush them.

Did someone say “mechanical presses?” That suggests Apple’s recent disaster of a crusher ad that took the world’s art and cultural artifacts and annihilated them in an industrial press, all to fit inside its new, thinner iPad.

It was like viewing Cruella killing puppies, and the social media world reacted so violently that Apple had to pull the spot.

Whereas, by immense contrast, the Coke logo results prove the opposite: how resilient, unsinkable, and basically unkillable that world-famous 1877 Spencerian script mark is.

And seeing through the crunch, with letters deleted, massacred, or left for dead, our brains seem to make room for what’s missing and put Humpty Cola together again.

That way, something as old as the iconic original -- that has worked since the very beginning of advertising -- gets a new, intriguing life.

Launched with big, red billboards, OOH in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, the campaign is expected to expand worldwide.

In its case study for the entry, Ogilvy NY calls the “Recycle Me” work a “call to action, taken right from the side of the can.”

“Each execution features a unique logo, mimicking the different ways people crush their cans before recycling them,” it says.

The work fits into Coke’s larger “World Without Waste” campaign, its sustainable packaging initiative.

But “Recycle Me” isn’t the soft drink giant’s only Latin American campaign that lovingly embraces its living logo.

This campaign, called “Every Coca-Cola is Welcome,” honors the culture’s long history of copying the logo in hand-painted or home-drawn versions, gracing handmade signs or the sides of local bodegas and shops.

Each one featured is like found art, charmingly imperfect in its own way. But rather than suppressing these unauthorized images, the Atlanta-based company elevated them to individual billboard status. 

What I also like about both campaigns is that they serve as the ultimate anti-AI.

For the Grand Prix winner, the point was to venture into the now crucial need for recycling.

But in so doing, the campaign also shows us that old warhorse icons never die. Rather, with the right focus and messaging, they can spring back to life, offering inspiration and enormous flexibility for the future.


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