Coke Zero break up ad taken off air

Coca-Cola has taken its “Break Up” ad for Coke Zero off the air in Australia after the Advertising Standards Bureau received complaints about its raunchy content.  

The Coke Zero ad – which was created by the Danish agency Grey Copenhagen – has been running globally. It features a young man steeling himself to end a relationship. When he starts to break the news, it goes far better than he could have hoped, complete with pole dancers appearing from nowhere and the girlfriend saying she understands, and to call her when he wants to have fun.

Prior to broadcast, the Australian version of the TVC had already been toned down compared to the version airing in some parts of the world which included the girl inviting him to call “when you want to shag”.

But the Australian Family Association has labelled the ad – aimed at Coke Zero’s young, male audience – sexist, reported Adelaide’s Sunday Mail. The Advertising Standards Bureau told Mumbrella  that it had received complaints and was investigating. And a spokesman for Coca-Cola South Pacific told Mumbrella that the company had voluntarily taken the Coke Zero commercial off the air until the ASB has looked at it.

However, the ad has so far only generated 45 complaints. The willingness of Coca-Cola to voluntarily pull the ad until the ASB has ruled, comes after its recent bruising encounter with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over its “myth-busting” advertisements for Coke.

The ASB will be keen to show that it can be a tough regulator after being attacked by the ACCC for okaying the previous ad. But if it does ban the TVC, it risks putting itself at odds to regulators in other parts of the world where the ad is still running.


  1. JosieK
    15 Apr 09
    1:34 pm

  2. It is a horribly misogynist and highly offensive ad – I am surprised that it is running anywhere. I am no supporter of anybody who calls themselves the Australian Family Association and I love the idea of the punch line ‘let’s just hook up for fun’, but all of the women portayed in the ad are just nasty and demeaning stereotypes. You could achieve a better result with the same idea and a less offensive portrayal of what men want in women. Or am I just hopelessly naive?

  3. AdGrunt
    15 Apr 09
    3:02 pm

  4. I’m not convinced the AFA is the reason it has been pulled. This ad’s biggest problem is that it’s just not very good. It uses an old idea delivered in an uninspiring package which doesn’t resonate widely, if at all.

    Pole Dancers appear – SO WHAT. Girls are wearing bikinis and dancing lasciviously – SO WHAT. A girl is up for ex-sex – SO WHAT. No man is holding them back or putting them down. They all seem confident, empowered women to me.

    Sexist? Misogynistic? No. That’s a misandristic view. The ad is a comical fantasy, like most ads. To not get that suggests a lack of cultural awareness and tolerance, which is the agenda of most religious conservative groups from any faith.

    I believe the AFA (which is politically just to the right of Genghis Khan) never complained about Diet Coke break, the current Foxtel ads, etc. which portray men as sexual objects or clueless buffoons. Even if no-one outside AFA cares, this shows the AFA to be the ones with a broken moral compass.

  5. JosieK
    15 Apr 09
    3:22 pm

  6. Your rant completely misses my point, which is that you don’t need to be conservative or religious to be offended by this ad, because it is just offensive. My complaint is not about women being portrayed as sexual objects, but as nasty and demeaning stereotypes. I’m not lacking cultural awareness or tolerance, I’m just objecting, like you, to the lack of depth and poor humour in the execution of this idea – an idea I don’t mind at all.

  7. AdGrunt
    15 Apr 09
    4:30 pm

  8. JosieK

    Bless. You make the incorrect and arrogant assumption that my “rant” is anything to do with your (confusing) comments. If it was, I’d have addressed my comments to you. I’m talking about the ad, the piece and the actions of Coke, AFA, ASB and ACCC.

    Happy to critique your comment if you’d like. Please advise.

  9. Lynchy
    15 Apr 09
    5:53 pm

  10. It’s also a very poor imitation of all the Axe spots running around the world.
    Here’s one:

    And who could forget this local classic for Lynx:

  11. re: turn on
    16 Apr 09
    4:57 pm

  12. The AFA should applaud the ad for having its protagonist put a helmet on before racing out of a fireball. Safety first!

    Its only sexist if you lack a sense of irony. The ad clearly satirizes male fantasies; the sexist female caricatures are a figment of the protagonist’s warped imagination. Its pretty obvious when he gets on that motorbike.

    No more sexist than the Lynx ads, but certainly inferior in concept and execution.

  13. newag
    16 Apr 09
    6:45 pm

  14. Don’t confuse the AFA with the AFA!

  15. grown up
    16 Apr 09
    7:59 pm

  16. Grow up, its just an ad. If you find it an offensive stereotype change the channel just like i’m sure you do when all those cleaning product ads featuring only women are on!

  17. Anonymous
    21 Apr 09
    3:58 pm

  18. It is indeed offensive.

    My real objection to the add is not only the pole dancers etc in the ad and the obvious objectification of women involved, but the fact it is insinuated that this is how a break up SHOULD BE.

    Women should live to serve male fantasties and when they object to being portrayed as vapid sexual objects they should change the channel? This sort of ad normalises sexual objectification and it smells a little when people’s retort is to call objectees prudes etc. Why should I change the channel???

  19. AdGrunt
    21 Apr 09
    4:28 pm

  20. Anonymous,
    A little late to the fray, but hey. As it’s Tuesday, I’ll be doing this in the sardonic style of Charlie Brooker. Here we go…

    A wild guess, but are you female and ugly?
    Could you compare and contrast your views on this ad with those of the Diet Coke Break ads.
    In this exercise, I hope to see you graphically explain how your cognitive dissonance rips your conscience apart until you explode in an aerosol of faux-feminist excreta.
    Quite frankly, I could do with the laugh as I read your trite blithering remarks descend into a pit of misandrist despair.
    Solution: Take some valium, a glass of wine and Jessica Rabbit to calm yourself down. Repeat ad nauseam.

    Then make my dinner.

  21. Anonymous
    21 Apr 09
    5:55 pm

  22. Nice. All that comment did was prove your idiocy.

    Can you not disagree with someone without resorting to insults? In answer to your question, no I’m not. Are you?

  23. AdGrunt
    21 Apr 09
    6:12 pm

  24. Anonymous,
    Feminist humour-bypass victims are down the hall on the left.
    Don’t wear your bikini or they’ll stone you to death.

  25. rachel
    4 May 09
    12:19 pm

  26. disgracefully sexist ad – i complained to coke and got the stock reply – so i’m thrilled it’s been pulled. offensive to women is clearly cool with coke. bring on the pepsi!!

  27. Me
    5 May 09
    12:51 pm

  28. I’m afraid that I don’t have much time to watch tv, nor am i really interested in the verbose ramblings of an immature sapling who’s parents obviously gave him a thesaurus for Christmas one year instead of a bike….. but I would like to throw this very innocent question into the discussion – Why was this advert pulled when Richard Branson’s latest advert for Virgin is played over and over?

    I see no difference is either portrayal of women. In both ads, woman are solely being portrayed as bodies to satisfy desire.

    Interesting? Possibly the “smug old man” is more socially acceptal, than the hormonally challenged, young man.

    Its all in the control Adgrunt.! I’m told it comes with age / maturity…… maybe one day for you!!!!

  29. mumbrella
    5 May 09
    1:25 pm

  30. I wonder if another factor was that by the time the ASB came to consider it, Coke had already voluntarily taken the ad off the air. Their submission to the ASB read a little like the fight had already gone out of them, preumably because of the ACCC battering

    I’m guessing that made it a lot easier for the ASB to come to the verdict about an ad which is still deemed acceptable in much of the English-speaking world.

    Regardless, I wouldn’t be expecting much risk-taking advertising from Coke anytime soon.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  31. AdGrunt
    5 May 09
    1:28 pm

  32. Me, you’re too kind.
    Extremely sorry that you’re threatened by big words and the breadth of the English language. That makes me sad. As does your appalling grammar. Maybe you’re jealous of someone who can actually construct a sentence correctly?
    For one so anti-verbosity I think you only meant to write:
    “I see no difference is either Virgin or Coke’s portrayal of women. In both ads, women are solely being portrayed as bodies to satisfy desire.”
    So why didn’t you?

  33. Me
    6 May 09
    8:57 am

  34. The answer is simple…..I enjoy your passionate retorts, Adgrunt – they are funny!!!!!


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