A Fix for AI Coca-Cola Ad to Help the Audience See the Story

Evaluation of the Coca-Cola Masterpieces AI Special Effects Ad by R. Michael Brown

The new Coca-Cola Masterpiece “AI generated” ad has been widely praised for its special effects (some of which are AI generated) and all the masterpiece artwork that was used. But, I can’t help but feel that a little less focus on the effects and more on the storytelling would have resulted in a stronger ad.

The agency that produced the ad failed by assuming too much about what the audience would perceive from the ad – that they would “get” the story on first-viewing, or would care by the end after the rollercoaster ride of special effects.

Coca-Cola Masterpieces Ad Special Effects - R. Michael Brown makes ad better
Coca-Cola Masterpieces Ad Special Effects

One or two additional shots at the beginning would have made the story clear to the first-time audience right from the start and made the ad psychologically connect more with the audience.

I think they could have “fixed” the storytelling part by first establishing what the main character was doing – creating a drawing in a museum and looking for inspiration. All they needed to add was a closeup on his notebook while his pencil is stopped on the drawing and then cut to a point-of-view (POV) of him scratching his head. Plus, change his expression along the way during the story.

With those additional 3-5 seconds, the story would have been more clear from the beginning. The way the ad is now, you don’t really get that story until the end when the ad it over. After establishing the plot from the beginning, the audience would then enjoy the imagining the main character goes through.

Storytelling needs to be at the forefront of any creative campaign and I commend Coca-Cola for their innovative approach to using amazing artwork and AI.

The ad certainly made you wonder who was going to get, and throw, the product next. In that case, it was very successful at making you focus on the Coke bottle over and over again.

Masterpiece with Coke
Masterpiece with Coke

Here at R. Michael Brown LLC, we focus on the story FIRST. Out motto: “More Storytelling – Less Marketing” is our primary objective, because folks relate to stories more than ads or commercial messages. Once we have a strong story in place, then we do the images and special effects.

Our Storytelling Craft Outline – With Coke’s Plot Added

I use a standard Three-Act Play Outline to create a plot for all story based content in video, animation, and web text/print. Help the audience connect with the story.

R. Michael Brown Storytelling Craft Outline - Help audience see the story.
R. Michael Brown Storytelling Craft Outline – Help audience see the story.

Act 1: Establish location and introduce the character(s)

They established that the character was in some sort of building but you couldn’t tell it was a museum until about 15-20 seconds in. The main character was only holding a notebook and looked sleepy (or bored) and glancing around some. They introduced the “instructor” and other “students” (didn’t really get that until the ad was over). The special effects took over.

Act 2: Show what the characters go through and help audience see the story

The instructor was overseeing what the students were doing, looking with a critical eye. I’m being generous here. On first viewing, I didn’t know the other characters were instructor and students. Was the main character part of this class/program? It wasn’t obvious. He wasn’t sitting with them.

Then the camera zoomed to the Andy Warhol 1962 Coke bottle artwork (new character?) and the artwork started throwing the flying and morphing Coke bottle around for an unknown reason. As an audience member, I didn’t know why on first viewing, but it was cool. The main character continued to look bored. Perhaps his expression should have looked more like he was imagining these things?

Coca-Cola Masterpieces AI ad praised for special effects; but, less focus on effects and more on helping the audience see the story would make ad better.

Act 3: The climax and payoff, resolving the issues that the characters endured

Finally the climax when the bottle is opened. He smiles. Is that because he’s getting a free drink or that he suddenly finds himself inspired? The payoff is – he drinks the Coke, draws with a smile, and the instructor looks on approvingly.

The story must be very clear to an audience in a stream-of-consciousness way. It wasn’t here on first viewing. And 90% won’t watch it more than once. They may not even get through all 1 minute 52 seconds because they don’t know what’s going on other than the special effects. Help the audience see the story.

In the first act, you want the audience to understand, empathize, or be motivated by the main character. None of that was established up front or part of the script.

In this case, the agency focused on the special effects hoping that would carry the story. Effects seldom do because they don’t have any emotion or viewer’s mental investment attached to them like a storyline (plot) does.

What do you think? Would two additional shots in Act 1 and changing the expression of the main character along the way fix the story and make a stronger ad? How would you change it to make it better?

See the Coca-Cola Ad on YouTube

See R. Michael Brown’s Portfolio and How He Uses His Three-Act Play Outline

Need Help With Your Stories, Content, Ads? Contact Me Today Mike@RMichaelBrown.com

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Communication, public relations, & marketing consultant, freelance writer, media producer, and speaker.

One thought on “A Fix for AI Coca-Cola Ad to Help the Audience See the Story

  1. I’m thankful to learn more about the topic and continue looking into it. Thanks for this dynamite article!
    The Coca-Cola Masterpiece ad has received praise for its special effects and artwork, but there has been a lack of emphasis on storytelling. The agency could have clarified the plot by establishing the main character’s actions in the beginning of the ad. The R. Michael Brown LLC company stresses that storytelling should be the top priority of any creative campaign. The article suggests that by using a Three-Act Play Outline, the plot and character development would help the audience better connect with the story. The Coca-Cola ad focused too heavily on special effects and less on storytelling. Changing the character’s expression and adding two additional shots to establish the plot at the beginning could have improved the ad. Having a clear storyline is necessary for audiences to understand and be motivated by the main character.
    Patrice Ring

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