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Have a Coke and a LGBT

What made this spot so good? Coca-Cola / Poolboy - Santo This is the seventh in a series of articles where I deconstruct examples of excellent storytelling in contemporary advertising.

Coke has been in the colored water business for 130 years. Lately, many beverage brands have tried tackling diversity with their marketing efforts. But watch how the Santo team subtly incorporates LGBT into the latest installment of Coca-Cola's "Taste the Feeling" campaign. The pain point: Represent gay people in a spot without being too preachy. The solution: Don't make a big deal of it. And be funny.

Goal, action, complication, resolution

This spot tells the story of a brother and sister racing to win the attention of an attractive pool guy by offering him a Coke – but their mom beats them to it.

There are a few goals in this complex little story. At first, it seems like a typical ‘girl wants boy’ formula. Her goal, it’s implied - is that she wants to hook up with this guy. Seems simple enough: offer him a cold beverage.

Things get complicated however when she discovers her brother intends to do the same thing.

The action is played humorously, of course in slow motion as they literally trip over one another in a foot race to the back yard beefcake.

Another nice story element here is the reversal that happens at the end. The mom beats them both to the punch, proving that this is one horny family. I half expected to also see the dad courting this dude. But that would be a whole different resolution.

Story Tip

If you believe in writer’s block or not, we can all hit a wall with our writing. Next time you do, run through my goal-action-complication-resolution - checklist. I have these four words written in the corner of my office chalk board. They stare down at me all day long as if they’re saying, "I’m right here when you need me."

The Press Play Test

The best way to see if an idea is landing, is to test it. It’s easy to pitch an idea to your creative team when you can hop up and down and act your way through it with funny voices and props. But is the idea good enough to stand on its own? Most of the time I force myself to draw out every story beat using stick figures, throw them in a timeline, record scratch voices and edit it down in Final Cut Pro. This animatic must pass my ‘press play test!’

I fire off a link to this video to someone who has no clue of what I’m up to. Even better if this test audience is only tangentially in the creative business. I ask just one question: “Do you get it?” If it passes this test, I know I’m on to something with potential. Your turn! What’s your creative process? How do you test ideas before you get into production? Let us know in the comments.

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