THE BLOG
03/25/2013 01:36 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Diet C*ck: Coca-Cola's Porno Promo

As an avid voyeur of the media's marketing of the male body, I meant to write about this new Diet Coke advertisement, "Gardener," when it first strutted its stuff about a month or so back, but it completely slipped my mind, like a chilled, beading soft drink can slip from a lubed hand. Apologies. Obviously there's not enough NutraSweet in my bloodstream.

For its 30th anniversary, Diet Coke, a brown, sticky, fizzy, calorie-free drink aimed at women (Coke Zero is the "male" equivalent, the girly word "diet" replaced by a manly statistic), has resurrected its most memorable campaign trope, the Diet Coke hunk, which originated in the 1990s, when Diet Coke succeeded in connecting itself with the emergence of female sexual assertiveness -- and, of course, the emergence of male submissiveness, objectification and commodification; after all, a "hunk" is a faceless, nameless, if appetizing, thing. In doing so, Diet Coke made itself modern and tasty.

Naturally, everyone in the new ad, now set in the brave, new, artificially sweetened, color-enhanced, metrosexy world that Diet Coke helped usher in, is slim, young and attractive. No one here needs to do anything as vulgar as actually diet. Diet Coke is a lifestyle, a sensibility, certainly not a utility or a necessity. The women look like they're taking a break from shooting on location for the British version of Sex and the City (or at least Daughters of Sex and the City).

The hunk is a blandly attractive boy with a fashion beard; he could easily be a contestant on a reality dating show (and probably has been). As usual in Diet Coke land, the hunk is labouring away in some menial, manual capacity while the middle-class women, relaxing from a higher vantage point (remember "Diet Coke Break"?), enjoy literally looking down on him. He cuts the grass; they sit on it. He works; they watch.

When one of them rolls a can of the product down the hill toward the sweating proletarian, it seems like a hostile act. After all, the can could have hit the spinning lawn mower blades and caused damage and injury, perhaps even scarring that pretty face. Instead, it comes to rest on the side of the hunk's mower. When the thirsty, sweaty chap opens the can, it sprays him with the contents -- in slow, money-shot motion. From their lofty, grassy vantage point, the women find this hilarious, and it seems as if this had been the plan all along. Maybe they even shook the can before rolling it down the hill, the minxes.

So now our man of toil is covered in ejaculated stickiness. And our triumphant, thoroughly modern women have had their fun. However, when he takes his T-shirt off and wrings it out, flashing his abs and carefully flexing his large pectoral muscles, the women's jaws drop. The look they give the hunk's body is one of total, gobsmacked longing and very "unladylike" lust.

The hunk seems entirely aware of his effect on the women, and in fact, this is both his revenge and his reward. He smiles a knowing smile over his shoulder as he heads off, continuing his mowing with a spring in his step. Objectification is a kind of gratification. This moment reminded me of the corny line from Magic Mike: "You have the cock. They don't." No wonder the woman who rolled the can down the hill quickly presses her lips to the can in her hand.

As even the short "teaser" below makes pornographically clear, with its closeups on the undressing hunk's belt buckle and the voyeur lady's lips, Diet Coke is quite explicitly and quite shamelessly marketing itself as the calorie-free, carbonated phallus.

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