Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


In the conference room, the tension was palpable.

They need a new ad campaign and time was running out.

"I've got it!" shrieked an enthusiastic brand manager. ""Let's do really sexist jokes, the sort that my dad would totally love!"

"Yeah? That's GREAT idea!" screamed his boss. "This is what the world really needs from our brand. A bit of brutally refreshing sexism! It never fails to inspire!"

"Brutally Refreshing? That's a BRILLIANT line!" ululated another marketing type.

Everyone beamed with pleasure and relief.

It just isn't easy to think of things to say about Sprite.

And so, within a few exciting minutes, they had it. A new campaign called #BrutallyRefreshing.

This is, at least, how I imagine the campaign-- which ran on an Irish news website--came about.

This is the campaign for which Sprite's parent company,  Coca-Cola, has now apologized.

"We strive to deliver the highest standards of advertising, and we recognize that on this occasion the content did not meet our, or our consumers', expectations," the company said in a statement reported by CNN.

But it surely did meet the company's expectations. Someone at the company approved it. Someone put money behind it. Someone must have thought it uproariously funny.

The campaign ran with headlines such as "She's seen more ceilings than Michaelangelo."

And: "You're Not Popular. You're Easy."

Oh, and then there was: "A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2!"

One wonders how many of Sprite's marketing team and their creative advisers were brutally refreshed when they conceived these highly original lines.

Or at least they were original when they were first uttered in around 1957.

Some would muse, though, that we're all a little uptight about things like racism and sexism.

Indeed, as the BBC reports, the Sprite campaign was all about "celebrating those with guts to tell it like it is."

But this is Coca-Cola, the brand which tried to teach the whole world to sing saccharine songs.

This is Coca-Cola, the brand that regularly tosses us smiling families, insanely happy teenagers and cuddly polar bears.

This is Coca-Cola, whose current tagline is "Taste The Feeling."

I wonder what feeling certain Irish executives at the company are tasting this week.

Coca-Cola suggested to the BBC that these ads did, kinda-sorta, reflect Sprite's brand values in Ireland.

"Since its introduction in Ireland, Sprite has been associated with individuality and self-expression," said a company spokeswoman.

What kind of self did these ads reflect?