Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola returns to Super Bowl to pitch Coke Energy to an audience that may need a boost on Monday morning

Key Points
  • Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad will focus on its recently launched Coke Energy and feature Martin Scorcese and Jonah Hill.
  • Coke started selling the energy drink in the United States on Jan. 20.
  • U.S. consumers are drinking less soda, but energy drinks have not seen the same decline in consumption.
Actor Jonah Hill drinks Coca-Cola Energy in a Super Bowl commercial

More than 17 million workers are expected to skip work the day after the Super Bowl, according to a survey commissioned by Kronos.

Coca-Cola wants to offer those bleary-eyed folks another alternative: a jolt of caffeine to combat the post-Super Bowl lethargy. Its new advertising campaign for Coke Energy debuts during the big game to deliver the message.

It's a return to the main event for the Atlanta beverage giant, which opted last year for a commercial that aired before kickoff.

Coke will need to walk a fine line when marketing the energy drink. Monster and Red Bull have faced backlash for advertising that appears to target children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents should not drink energy drinks because of their high caffeine content.

Geoff Cottrill, Coke's senior vice president of strategic marketing for creative, said that Coke Energy's advertising will not target anyone under the age of 18.

U.S. consumption of soda has been declining steadily as health conscious consumers turn away from sugar. Energy drinks, however, have managed to buck the trend. That creates an opportunity for Coke to combine the sway of its namesake soda brand with a beverage category that is growing sales.

Coke's 60-second spot features Martin Scorcese waiting for a text message back from actor Jonah Hill, who needs a caffeine boost from Coke Energy before he can join the legendary director at a party. Hill hand-selected Scorcese to join him in the commercial, according to Cottrill.

Coke will continue using the "show up" theme from the ad campaign once the big game is over. It's plannning a large sampling event at Grand Central Station in New York City for those who watch the Super Bowl and then drag themselves into the office on Monday morning. In 29 markets, users of the Amazon app can pick-up samples from the e-commerce giant's Treasure Trucks.

Coke Energy contains guarana extracts, B vitamins and 114 milligrams of naturally sourced caffeine — about three times as much as a typical can of Coke but still less than a cup of coffee. Coke started selling the energy drink in the United States on Jan. 20 and will continue to ramp up its distribution nationwide. The global beverage giant has also launched Coke Energy in select international markets, but the U.S. version will taste more like its namesake soda.

"We'll be putting the full marketing muscle behind our Coke Energy launch in the U.S.," Coke CEO James Quincey told analysts on the company's earnings call Thursday.

The 60 seconds of Super Bowl airtime will likely cost Coke at least $10 million.

Higher sales of its namesake Coke brand, which includes products like Coke Plus Coffee and Coke Zero Sugar, helped the company beat analysts' estimates for its fourth-quarter revenue on Thursday.

Rival PepsiCo will report its quarterly results on Feb. 13. Pepsi will show three 30-second ads during the Super Bowl, one of which will spotlight Pepsi Zero Sugar.

Shares of Coke, which has a market value of $252 billion, have risen 22% over the last twelve months. Pepsi's stock, valued at $200 billion, is up 27% in the same time period.

Coca-Cola CEO: We've got the momentum for a pretty solid 2020
Coca-Cola CEO: We've got the momentum for a pretty solid 2020